Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and 22 other Democratic senators sent a letter to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan on Wednesday demanding an investigation of two major proposed oil industry mergers and warning that the consolidations could hurt consumers.
Schumer and his colleagues want the FTC to investigate ExxonMobil’s proposed $60 billion acquisition of Pioneer Natural Resources, and Chevron’s proposed $53 billion acquisition of Hess Corporation.
“By allowing Exxon and Chevron to further integrate their extensive operations into important oil-and-gas fields, these deals are likely to harm competition, risking increased consumer prices and reduced output throughout the United States,” they wrote.
They called on the FTC to consider various anti-competitive harms and urged the agency to oppose them if they would violate antitrust law.
They noted that more than 2,600 mergers occurred through the U.S. petroleum industry in the 1990s, and the number of major U.S. energy companies dropped from 19 to 9 due to consolidation.
“After these huge mergers took place, the majors’ upstream operations were skewed to the detriment of consumers. Studies at the time demonstrated that spending on drilling for new oil supplies by the merged giants fell significantly compared to the drilling budgets before the mergers,” the senators wrote.
The signatories include Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Angus King (I-Maine), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), John Fetterman (D-Pa.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.), among others.
Schumer highlighted the letter on the Senate floor Wednesday morning.
“I think people should pay attention to this, because this is a very serious issue,” he said, calling the ExxonMobil and Chevron deals “two of the largest oil acquisitions of the 21st century.”
“Some of the largest mergers in the history, in the whole history of the United States — where are they occurring? In the heavily concentrated oil industry, where the consumer has almost no say whatsoever. These deals have all the hallmarks of harmful, anti-competitive effect,” he warned.