Oil companies fined for paraffin wax cartel

The European Commission has imposed a €676 million fine on nine groups: Eni, ExxonMobil, Hansen & Rosenthal, Tudapetrol, MOL, Repsol, Sasol, RWE, and Total—for taking part in a price fixing and market sharing cartel for paraffin wax in the European Economic Area during 1992-2005.

Doris Leblond
OGJ Correspondent

PARIS, Oct. 2 -- The European Commission has imposed a €676 million fine on nine groups: Eni, ExxonMobil, Hansen & Rosenthal, Tudapetrol, MOL, Repsol, Sasol, RWE, and Total—for taking part in a price fixing and market sharing cartel for paraffin wax in the European Economic Area during 1992-2005.

Shell also was a participant but its fine was scrapped because it revealed the existence of the cartel to the Commission.

EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes said the producers of paraffin waxes and slack wax (the raw material for paraffin wax) not only fixed prices, but ExxonMobil, MOL, Repsol, Sasol, Shell, and Total also engaged in market allocation for the product, and ExxonMobil, Sasol, Shell, RWE, and Total also fixed prices for slack wax to end customers on the German market. Slack wax is produced in refineries as a by-product in the manufacture of base oils from crude oil.

The fine for Sasol was increased 50% because it was the leader of the cartel. The fine for Eni was increased by 60% for it had been previously involved in similar cartels.

Sasol, Repsol, and ExxonMobil were granted a reduction of their fines respectively of 50%, 25%, and 7% because they cooperated in the investigation.

Paraffin waxes are used in a wide variety of products such as candles, waxed paper, paper cups and plates, wax coating on cheese, chemicals, tires and car components, as well as in rubber, packaging, adhesive, and chewing gum industries. The market, indicates the Commission, is worth almost €500 million.

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