Democrat probes 18 oil companies after FTC collusion accusations

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) is probing 18 oil and gas companies after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) accused the former CEO of firm Pioneer Natural Resources of colluding with foreign oil producers last month.

Whitehouse, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, asked the companies for copies of any communications with the foreign oil powers, known collectively as OPEC, related to oil production or prices.

The senator particularly cited FTC’s accusation that Pioneer’s Scott Sheffield “sought to align oil production across the Permian Basin in West Texas and New Mexico” with that of OPEC and its allies.

Pioneer was not among the firms he reached out to, but ExxonMobil, with which Pioneer is slated to merge, was.

“In view of the findings against Sheffield, I seek to understand whether other oil producers operating in the United States may also have been coordinating with OPEC and OPEC+ representatives,” Whitehouse wrote.

Lawyers for Sheffield say he was “unjustly smeared” by the antitrust agency.

Democrats have repeatedly accused fossil fuel companies of price gouging, which the industry has denied. This latest line of inquiry from Whitehouse comes after he recently accused major oil firms and lobby groups of promoting disinformation about climate change. 

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.