Shell, Petrobras units probed for Brazil price-fixing

August 2, 2018

Brazil’s three largest fuel distribution companies are under investigation for fixing prices at the pump, police said, reigniting debate over potential collusion among gas station owners in Latin America’s largest oil producer.
The firms targeted by the probe are Petrobras Distribuidora SA, a subsidiary of state oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA; Ipiranga, a unit of Ultrapar Participações SA; and Raízen, a Cosan SA and Royal Dutch Shell Plc joint venture.
Police in the southern state of Parana were serving eight arrest warrants and 12 search and seizure warrants in connection with the probe in the city of Curitiba, the state capital, according to police.
The probe comes two months after Brazil’s economy was paralysed by a trucker strike over soaring diesel fuel prices. While the government resolved that protest with new subsidies and other measures, antitrust regulators also raised concerns about a lack of competition in the highly concentrated sector.
Police said they were targeting managers and sales representatives of the three firms in the investigation, which has been underway for over a year.
They accused the fuel distribution companies of dictating the prices at the pump charged by individual gas station owners, a violation of Brazilian market rules that the owners should have freedom to set prices freely.