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Bundeskartellamt examines cases of unfair hindrance of independent petrol stations

Date of issue: 04.04.2012

Yesterday the Bundeskartellamt instituted proceedings against five major oil companies on suspicion of their unfairly hindering independent petrol stations. The companies concerned are Deutsche BP/Aral, ExxonMobil Europe/Esso, ConocoPhilips Germany/Jet, Shell Deutschland and Total Deutschland.

Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt, stated: "We always rigorously follow up such suspicions. The independent petrol stations must be supplied at fair conditions in order to be able to compete against the dominant oligopoly of the 'big five'."

In the Bundeskartellamt's view, the five large oil companies form a dominant oligopoly on the German petrol station market. The independent petrol stations, which account for one-third of the German market, depend on the five large oil companies for their fuel supplies because they have no refinery capacities of their own.

The Bundeskartellamt has received several complaints from independent petrol stations about the pricing behaviour of the five oil companies. In several cases, the dominant oil companies are said to have sold diesel and petrol fuel to independent petrol stations at prices that were higher than those they charge from customers at their own petrol stations (so-called margin squeeze). It was also claimed that the large oil companies had offered petrol and diesel fuel at several of their petrol stations at prices below cost price.

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