Monday, June 29, 2009

Energy Markets: Estimates of the Effects of Mergers and market Concentration on Wholesale Gasoline Prices

This Government Accountability Office report (GAO-09-659) dated June 2009 found three mergers were associated with statistically significant increases or decreases in wholesale gasoline prices. Specifically, GAO found that the mergers of Valero Energy with Ultramar Diamond Shamrock and Valero Energy with Premcor, which both involved the acquisition of refineries, were associated with estimated average price increases of about 1 cent per gallon each. In addition, GAO found that the merger of Phillips Petroleum with Conoco, which primarily involved the acquisition of oil exploration and production assets, was associated with an estimated average decrease in wholesale gasoline prices across cities affected by the merger of nearly 2 cents per gallon. This analysis provides an indicator of the impact that petroleum industry mergers can have on wholesale gasoline prices. Additional analysis would be needed to explain the price effects that GAO estimated.

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