Maine AG reaches settlement with oil company

Bryan Cohen May 31, 2011, 1:12am


AUGUSTA, Maine (Legal Newsline) - Maine Attorney General William Schneider announced a settlement with Irving Oil on Thursday.

In a deal made public in November 2009, Irving Oil Terminal Inc. and Irving Oil Limited would have acquired ExxonMobil's petroleum products terminals in Bangor and South Portland, in addition to the pipeline connecting the two terminals. Schneider alleged that this acquisition would have led to substantially reduced competition and a violation of Maine's merger laws.

"We have challenged this transaction for one very simple reason," Schneider said. "Promoting competition in an industry where consumer impact is high is critical, particularly in these times of rising fuel and gasoline prices. The people of Maine, particularly the Bangor and Penobscot Bay area, will benefit by keeping the gasoline marketplace open."

Irving, as part of the consent judgment and subject to court approval, will not acquire ExxonMobil's Banger terminal or the pipeline connecting the Bangor terminal and the South Portland terminal.

In addition, Irving will be prohibited from acquiring more than a 50 percent ownership interest in the South Portland terminal, which will instead be acquired by a joint venture between Irving, Buckeye Partners LP, and an affiliate, Buckeye Pipe Line Holdings LP.

Buckeye is a publicly traded partnership that owns and operates one of the largest independent refined petroleum products pipeline systems in the country. It will be the sole operator of the South Portland terminal. It will also acquire the ExxonMobil Bangor terminal and the intrastate pipeline that connects the two terminals.

The proposed consent judgment, which would govern for a period of 10 years, prevents Irving from acquiring additional shares in, operating or managing the South Portland terminal absent Schneider's prior approval.

The settlement requires prior notification should Irving acquire any form of additional ownership interests in petroleum products storage assets or transportation located in Maine. It also requires that firewall and monitor provisions be in place to prevent Irving from accessing and using confidential customer information as a result of the co-ownership in the South Portland terminal Buckeye joint venture.

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