Petrol prices 'rigged for a decade'

BP and Shell offices raided over allegations that British motorists have been ripped off

PETROL giants BP, Statoil and Shell have had their offices raided by regulators investigating allegations that they have colluded to rig petrol prices for more than a decade.

The European Commission suspects companies have been distorting oil and biofuel prices since 2002. During that period, petrol prices have risen by more than 80 per cent to around 135p per litre. The Commission said it suspected the firms of "anti-competitive agreements" relating to the submission of prices to oil pricing agency Platts. The Commission said even small distortions of prices could have a "huge impact on the prices of crude oil, refined oil products and biofuels purchases and sales, potentially harming final consumers".

MPs and energy experts are warning that motorists may have vastly overpaid for their petrol over the last decade, reports the Daily Telegraph. Liberal Democrat peer Lord Oakeshott said the allegations were "as serious as rigging Libor", adding: "Why have we had to wait for Brussels to find out if British oil giants are ripping off British consumers?"

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Conservative MP Robert Halfon said drivers have been taken for an "expensive ride". "First of all there should be prison sentences for price-fixing if any of these allegations are found to be true," he told Radio 4’s Today programme. "Secondly, any oil companies involved in this should face huge fines because this will be millions and millions of pounds that have affected motorists over a decade or so."

BP said the company is cooperating with the investigating. A Shell spokesperson also confirmed they were "currently assisting the European Commission in an enquiry into trading activities", adding: "For legal reasons we cannot make any further comment at this stage". Platts said it is "cooperating fully". Statoil, which is 67% owned by the Norwegian government, confirmed the investigation.

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