Russia probes oil price fixing
Three of Russia's top five oil producers were accused of price fixing Wednesday and faced the threat of heavy sanctions and other fines.
The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service said it had launched formal probes into the prices set for jet fuel and diesel by the state-controlled Rosneft and Gazprom Neft firms as well as the private Lukoil producer.
The agency added in a statement that is was also looking into the prises set by TNK-BP -- the Russian-British joint venture -- as well as Surgutneftegaz and Bashneft.
"The anti-monopoly service notes that there are objective reasons for the rise in the price of jet fuel and diesel," the agency said.
"But the rise in foreign market prices and the growth of excise taxes can only partially explain (why) oil companies increased prices on the federal wholesale market at the end of 2010 and start of 2011," the statement said.
The agency said the price of diesel has jumped 53 percent since October.
At least two of the companies targeted by the probe announced an immediate price reduction Wednesday.
Gazprom Neft said in a statement that its cut in the price of diesel would lead to one ruble (three cent) reduction at the pump. TNK-BP said it was lowering its winter diesel prices by 1.2 rubles.
© 2011 AFP