Archives: Energy/Commodities

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Supreme Court Finds No Pre-emption in Natural Gas Act Case

The U.S. Supreme Court recently held in ONEOK Inc. v. Learjet, Inc., that the Natural Gas Act (NGA) does not pre-empt state-law antitrust suits over manipulation of natural gas indices.  The court’s decision has important ramifications for natural gas regulation and the regulation of the energy industry more broadly. In ONEOK, a group of direct-sales … Continue Reading

Despite Potential Market Manipulation, FERC Declines to Reject Power Auction Results

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or the Commission) recently opted not to take action to set aside the results of a power auction that was allegedly manipulated.  In the face of significant public complaints, the Commission ordered revisions to tariff provisions governing future auctions.  While it opted not to take action here, the opinions … Continue Reading

FTC Staff Comments on New York State Proposal to Transform Power Distribution

In April 2014, the New York Public Service Commission’s (NY PSC) Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiative “propose[d] a platform to transform New York’s electric industry . . . with the objective of creating market-based, sustainable products and services that drive an increasingly efficient, clean, reliable, and customer-oriented industry.”  In August 2014, the NY PSC … Continue Reading

Chinese Magnesite Producers Antitrust Class Action Complaint Dismissed

On July 24, 2014, the district court in Animal Sci. Prod., Inc. et al. v. China Nat’l Metals & Minerals Imp. and Exp. Corp. et al., Case No. 2:05-cv-04376 (D.N.J.), dismissed direct purchaser plaintiff’s Amended Complaint without prejudice in favor of magnesite producers accused of engaging in a price fixing scheme for magnesite and magnesite … Continue Reading

European Commission Investigates Exemption from Renewable Energy Surcharge for Energy-Intensive Companies in Germany

The European Commission today opened a State aid investigation into the German Renewable Energy Source Act (the EEG), claiming that the EEG may have given unlawful advantages to energy-intensive companies in Germany. These companies now face the potential risk that benefits totalling billions of euros may have to be repaid. The European Commission (Commission) today … Continue Reading

FTC Focuses Enforcement Efforts on Health Care, Technology and Energy Sectors

On November 15, 2013, Chairwoman Edith Ramirez testified on behalf of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) before the House Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform on the topic of antitrust oversight and enforcement.  Ramirez explained that the FTC “focuses its enforcement efforts on sectors that most directly affect consumers, such as health care, technology and energy.” The … Continue Reading

Department of Justice Launches an Antitrust Investigation into Pressure Pumping Services Used in Hydraulic Fracturing

by Nicole Castle On July 24, 2013, Baker Hughes, Inc., the owner of the third-largest pressure pumping fleet in the United States, disclosed as part of its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it had received a civil investigative demand (CID) from the Department of Justice (DOJ) on May 30, 2013.  The CID … Continue Reading

On Heels of European Raids, Energy Companies Face U.S. Class Actions

by Megan Morley White Oaks Fund LP, an Illinois private placement fund, filed a class action suit last week against BP PLC, Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Statoil ASA in the Southern District of New York.  White Oaks Fund v. BP PLC, et al., case number 1:13-cv-04553.  The complaint alleges that the energy companies colluded … Continue Reading

EU State Aid Investigation into German Renewable Energy Law

 by Martina Maier and Philipp Werner The European Commission (Commission) is likely to open a formal EU State aid investigation into the German Renewable Energy Source Act. According to the Commission, the Act may have given unlawful advantages to renewable energy producers and energy-intensive companies (those producing chemicals or steel) in Germany. Producers and companies that benefited … Continue Reading

Natural Gas Companies Settle Antitrust Suit Stemming from Joint Bidding

by Jon B. Dubrow and Cerissa Cafasso On Monday, April 22, 2013, after rejecting the initial settlement agreement, Judge Richard Matsch (D. Colo.) approved a revised settlement of a suit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) against two energy companies for conspiring not to compete for mineral rights leases.  Gunnison Energy Corp. (GEC) … Continue Reading

Release of Confidential Cartel Information by European Commission to English High Court Suspended

by Philip Bentley and Philipp Werner On 29 November 2012, the EU General Court (GC) issued a provisional order suspending the European Commission’s decision to communicate to the High Court of England and Wales a copy of Alstom’s reply to the statement of objections in the gas insulated switchgear cartel.  The statement of objections, which … Continue Reading

Alleged Agreement Between Chesapeake Energy and EnCana Corporation to Suppress Prices for Mineral Rights Highlights the Antitrust Risks Facing Energy Companies

by Jon B. Dubrow and Shauna A. Barnes Recently published reports of land acquisition activities between Chesapeake Energy and EnCana senior executives will likely expose those companies to a Department of Justice (DOJ) antitrust investigation and challenge, as well as, if accurate, civil antitrust claims.  This matter highlights the risks that energy companies face when … Continue Reading

6th Circuit Limits Applicability of the Filed-Rate Doctrine and Holds that Electricity is a “Commodity” under Robinson-Patman

by Nick Grimmer, Gregory E. Heltzer and Shauna A. Barnes On June 6, 2012, in Williams v. Duke Energy Int’l, Inc., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit reversed a dismissal of Robinson-Patman Act (price discrimination) claims, amongst others.  In the district court, a class of electricity purchaser plaintiffs alleged that defendant electricity providers gave … Continue Reading

FERC Reaffirms Merger Policy; Does Not Adopt DOJ/FTC 2010 Horizontal Merger Guidelines

by Jon Dubrow and Cerissa Cafasso Public utilities could face different levels of scrutiny in merger reviews before the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission (the Antitrust Agencies). To view the full article, please click here. … Continue Reading

DOJ Finds Antitrust Violation in Joint Bid for Oil & Gas Leases

by Jon B. Dubrow and Shauna A. Barnes The U.S. Department of Justice’s recent action challenging a joint bidding arrangement for natural gas leases highlights the antitrust risks of joint bids.  This newsletter describes considerations parties considering joint bids can take to evaluate and potentially manage their antitrust risks. To read the full article, click … Continue Reading

Antitrust Inspections in The Energy Exchange Market

by David Henry and Philipp Werner On February 7, the European Commission (EC) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Surveillance Authority conducted unannounced inspections in the energy exchange market.  Representatives of Nord Pool Spot (Lysaker, Norway) and EPEX Spot (Paris, France and Leipzig, Germany) announced that the companies were subject to inspections.  It is … Continue Reading
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