A customer fills up his vehicle with gasoline at a gas station in Los Angeles August 16, 2005. Officials from six major oil companies have refused to testify this week at a Senate hearing looking into whether oil industry mergers in recent years have made gasoline more expensive at the pump. (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)
Officials from six major oil companies have refused to testify this
week at a Senate hearing looking into whether oil industry mergers in recent
years have made gasoline more expensive at the pump.
With oil companies reporting record profits from higher energy prices, consumer
groups have complained that mergers in the industry have stifled competition.
Exxon Mobil said on Monday it earned $10.7 billion in the fourth quarter of
last year and $36.1 billion for all of 2005 -- bigger than the economies of
The Senate Judiciary Committee, which is holding the hearing on Wednesday morning,
said it asked representatives from Exxon Mobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Valero
Energy and the U.S. units of BP and Royal Dutch Shell to tell their side of
"All declined the invitation to testify," the committee said in a
statement on Monday, without providing details.
The companies, with the exception of Valero, took a beating at a Senate hearing
last November on the industry's soaring profits at the time and high energy
Bill Kovacic, a member of the Federal Trade Commission, is scheduled to testify
at Wednesday's hearing.
The FTC is investigation whether oil companies manipulated gasoline prices
and oil refining production levels. The agency plans to finish its probe and
send its findings to Congress this May.
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal will also testify.
The price for gasoline jumped 2.1 cents over the last week to a national average
of $2.36 a gallon, up 45 cents from a year ago, the government said on Monday.