Argentina orders lowering of wholesale diesel prices

January 28th, 2012 - 11:41 am ICT by IANS  

Buenos Aires, Jan 28 (IANS/EFE) Argentina’s government has ordered refining firms to sell diesel for use in public transport at the same price they charge drivers at the pump, authorities said.

The Domestic Commerce Secretariat issued the resolution, published Friday on the National Commission for the Defense of Competition, or CNDC, web site, after the government last week accused five companies of abusing their dominant position in the wholesale diesel market to fix prices.

The CNDC notified the local units of Spain’s Repsol-YPF, Anglo Dutch Shell, Exxon and Brazil’s Petrobras and Argentina’s Oil Combustibles of the resolution.

The companies were warned to stop charging higher prices “in the diesel market for public passenger bus transport” than what they charge at service stations, the competition agency said.

“The measure was adopted to protect the economic interests of the population at large and particularly those who depend to a greater extent on public transport.”

The government accused the companies of some $808.3 million in annual overcharging affecting both public bus service, which is government-subsidized, and cargo transport.

Repsol’s local YPF unit, which has slammed the accusations as “unjustified”, controls 65 percent of Argentina’s diesel market, followed by Shell Argentina with 20 percent and Exxon unit Esso with 9 percent, while Petrobras Argentina and Oil Combustibles have the remaining share, according to government figures.

“The chicanery’s over,” President Cristina Fernandez said Wednesday, referring to the overcharging complaint filed with the CNDC.

The president said she would use all legally permitted tools at her disposal to defend the interests of the Argentine people in this matter.

–IANS/EFE
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