Kentucky AG mulls lawsuit against Marathon Oil Co.

Chris Rizo Aug. 23, 2008, 12:55pm

Jack Conway (D)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Legal Newsline)-Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway is considering a lawsuit against Marathon Oil Co. over a spike in regional gas prices, his office said Friday.

Conway subpoenaed documents from the petroleum giant Thursday, after motorists were forced to pay 18 cents more per gallon in Louisville than in other parts of the state, a statement said.

Findlay, Ohio -based Marathon Oil has 45 days to respond to the subpoenas. Conway said depending on the investigation's outcome, he might sue the company.

"They have 45 days to supply the information we're seeking, and after analyzing that information we will determine whether or not to move forward with a lawsuit in this case," Conway said in a statement.

Already, Conway and other Kentucky officials have asked the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice's Antitrust division to review the 1997 merger of Marathon and Ashland Oil.

Officials, including Gov. Steve Beshear, Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson and U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, say they want to know what the merger's effect on Kentucky gas prices have been.

Federal regulators in 2004 reviewed the merger and found that consumers were not being harmed by it.

"With the data we've received, I don't think that's the case anymore," Conway said.

"Louisville consumers are clearly paying a higher pre-tax price for gas today than they were ten years ago relative to other comparable cities in the region. We're also concerned about the prices in Northern Kentucky and the rest of the state."

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