The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee moved on Tuesday the bill that would allow the U.S. to sue OPEC for antitrust behavior and market manipulation to the Senate, Congress records show.
The so-called No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels (NOPEC) Act, which proposes to amend the Sherman Act to make oil-producing and exporting cartels illegal, was placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders.
Chances are that the bill won’t be debated until after the midterm elections on November 8, but that will depend on whether Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer moves the bill for debate. Considering the packed legislative schedule before the midterms, the NOPEC bill could only realistically be up for discussion after the elections, Reuters notes.
NOPEC has been an on-and-off topic for U.S. lawmakers and Administrations for over two decades but has never moved past discussions at committees in Congress. Forms of antitrust legislation aimed at OPEC were discussed at various times under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, but they both threatened to veto such legislation.
NOPEC was passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee in May this year, but calls for passing such legislation have intensified since the OPEC+ group decided in early October to reduce their headline oil production target by 2 million bpd as of November.
Following the OPEC+ decision, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, author of the bipartisan NOPEC Act, called for action “to hold foreign oil producers accountable for colluding to fix global oil prices.”
“If this administration insists on making us more dependent on less friendly, less environmentally conscious foreign oil producers, we should at least be able to hold them accountable for their unfair price fixing. My bipartisan NOPEC Act would crack down on these tactics by the foreign oil cartel,” Senator Grassley said in early October.
The White House has vowed a response to what it described as a “short-sighted” and “misguided” decision of the OPEC+ alliance.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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