Democratic Lawmakers Call on Antitrust Regulator to Investigate Oil and Gas Mergers

Credits: autoevolution

Nearly 50 Democrats in the U.S. Congress are urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate oil and gas company deals and expand current investigations to protect consumers and industry competition.

In 2023, the industry embarked on a $250 billion buying spree, capitalizing on high stock prices to secure lower-cost reserves. Major players like Exxon Mobil, Chevron Corp, and Occidental Petroleum made acquisitions totaling $135 billion.

This trend has continued into this year, with deals like Chesapeake Energy’s agreement in January to buy Southwestern Energy for $7.4 billion, making it the largest independent U.S. natural gas producer.

Democratic Lawmaker (Credits: AP News)

The Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Representative Ro Khanna, expressed concern that allowing a small group of dominant firms to control the industry would harm American consumers and industry competition.

They called on the FTC to extend its current investigations, open inquiries into new deals, and take appropriate actions to protect competition in the industry.

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, when asked about recent mergers, expressed concern about monopolies, as President Joe Biden is focused on lowering prices, including for gasoline.

Granholm also noted that some large oil and gas companies have been taking action on climate and clean energy, and she hopes that mergers could accelerate this trend.

The Democrats’ letter and Granholm’s comments highlight the tension between competition in the oil and gas industry and the need to address climate change.

As the FTC considers these issues, it will need to balance the benefits of competition with the potential impact on efforts to transition to cleaner energy sources.