SIX of the countries biggest oil companies have been accused of price fixing and market division, which affected farmers, the road freight, fishing and mining industries.
The Competition Commission said in a statement the companies had shared detailed information about sales and customers to hinder competition.
The suspected collusion ran from the late 1980s to 2005 and included petrol, diesel, illuminating kerosene and other products, the commission said.
The companies involved are Chevron, Total, Shell, Sasol, BP South Africa and Engen. The South African Petroleum Industry Association has also been involved in the investigation and its role in the anticompetitive conduct has also been highlighted during the investigation.
The case against the oil companies and their association has been referred to the Competition Tribunal following an investigation by the Competition Commission that started in January 2009.
The companies could face administrative penalties of up to 10% of their annual turnover.
The commission’s case is that the oil companies used the wholesale list selling price (WLSP) published by the Department of Energy as their list price. This prevented competitive discounting off this benchmark.