U.S. to be able to sue members of OPEC?

Marco Green
February 11, 2019

A bipartisan group of USA senators rolled out a bill that would allow the Justice Department to sue members of OPEC for antitrust violations, The Wall Street Journal reported.

A committee from the House of Representatives has approved a bill aimed at making OPEC members liable to US antitrust legislation, Reuters reports, adding the prospects of the bill ending up as law were not certain yet. A similar bill targeting OPEC was introduced in the Senate on Thursday.

Versions of the bill have appeared without success in Congress for the past 20 years.

President Trump, according to Reuters, has in the past, before taking the presidency, spoken in support of such a law. But the president has taken no action on Saudi Arabia, a major buyer of US weapons, even after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul previous year.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the committee's passage of the bill. The law would amend the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, the law used more than a century ago to break up the oil empire of John Rockefeller.

"I'm not going to predict it will get passed and enacted into law, but I think its prospects are pretty good", said Seth Bloom, former general counsel of the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee. Oil traded in NY fell 6 cents to $52.58 per barrel on Friday and was down about 4.9 percent for the week, the steepest decline this year, pulled down by worries about a global economic slowdown.

The oil and gas industry group the American Petroleum Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have opposed NOPEC, saying that booming U.S. energy output has reduced OPEC's influence.

Another analyst said the bill's future depends on the oil price. But OPEC's output fell in January by the largest amount in two years as its Gulf allies over-delivered on a supply cutting plan to boost prices and amid the Iran sanctions.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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