United States: Energy

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Publication September 2016

Competitor collaborations can be risky The oil industry was one of the early targets of the 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act and has remained in the crosshairs of both regulators and private plaintiffs since that time. The close industry scrutiny has been attributed to a number of general perceptions: the impact of oil and gas prices on consumers’ pocketbooks; profits labelled as excessive; the industry’s ostensibly close relationship with regulators; and now, public anti-fossil fuel sentiment.

Competitor collaborations are becoming increasingly attractive. Current low oil and gas prices have led to an increased focus on cost-cutting measures which can often be achieved by collaborating with competitors. Many agreements between competitors are considered per se illegal under the antitrust laws. And even if not per se illegal, competitor collaborations generally are not per se legal.

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