Role of mergers overstated in GAO fuel-price study

Even if it's right—which it probably isn't—a new report by the US General Accounting Office on oil-industry mergers amounts to whistling in a storm.The report concludes that consolidation of the refining and marketing industry in the 1990s raised the price of gasoline in the latter part of the decade.According to a summary statement, six of eight mergers studied led to wholesale-price increases in the mid-1990s through 2000 averaging 1-2¢/gal. Changes in conventional gasoline prices due to "increased market concentration" ranged from a decrease of 1¢/gal to an increase of 5¢/gal, GAO said."For boutique fuels sold in the East Coast and Gulf Coast regions,...

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