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API Opposed To U.S. Bill Allowing Antitrust Lawsuits Against OPEC

A bill that would pave the way for the U.S. to sue OPEC members and its allies under antitrust laws could have an unintended negative impact on America’s oil and gas industry, the American Petroleum Institute (API) said in a letter seen by Reuters.

The so-called No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act (NOPEC) has been an on-and-off topic for U.S. lawmakers and Administrations for nearly two decades but has never moved past discussions at committees in Congress. 

Now, with gasoline prices in the United States hitting their highest levels since 2014, the NOPEC legislation is again under discussion among lawmakers. 

Last week, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), a Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member, said that the bipartisan NOPEC bill was scheduled for consideration at the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. 

“Begging oil cartels for help is not the answer to combatting sky high ga$ price$,” Senator Grassley said on Twitter, adding that “We should hold cartels accountable for price-fixing/market manipulation.”

The bill was again introduced last year by Senator Grassley and Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). NOPEC legislation was advanced in the House Judiciary Committee earlier in 2021. 

Now, however, the API, the most influential U.S. oil trade group and lobby, is voicing its opposition to the legislation, arguing that it could have negative consequences for the U.S. oil industry with limited impact on bringing down gasoline prices in America.

“Legislative efforts that strengthen American energy production would be the best approach to ensure market stability and protect America's energy security,” the API wrote in the letter dated Friday and addressed to the chair and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

As of May 2, the national average U.S. price of a gallon of regular gasoline was $4.194, per AAA data. That’s up from $4.123 a week ago and slightly down from $4.20 a month ago, but significantly higher than $2.901/gallon at this time last year.  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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