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DECEMBER 2, 1998   12:24 PM
CONTACT: US Public Interest Research Group
Athan Manuel 202/546-9707 or 202/716-0006
Big Oil: Badder Than Ever: Proposed Mergers of Exxon with Mobil and BP with Amoco Highlight Dangerous New Trend in Oil Industry
WASHINGTON - December 2 - The proposed merger of Exxon and Mobil, coming less than six months after the announced merger of British Petroleum (BP) and Amoco, is Big Oil at its worst. Almost ten years after the Valdez oil spill, Exxon is once again trying to make notorious corporate history.

Big Oil has a proven track record of corporate irresponsibility. The proposed mergers will only make it easier for these mega companies to drill in sensitive areas and mock our anti-trust laws. We urge regulators in the U.S. and the European Union to protect citizens from the serious ramifications of these mergers and reject both the Exxon Mobil and BP Amoco mergers.

The mergers will cut costs and help Big Oil drill in even the remotest parts of the planet. Consumers, however, will not benefit, and the environment will almost certainly suffer.

Exxon and BP have abysmal environmental track records. Exxon is responsible for the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history, the Exxon Valdez oil spill. BP is not much better. In Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, a BP subcontractor recently was fined $15 million for illegally injecting hazardous waste back into the groundwater at the company’s Endicott oil field. Just last month a BP underwater pipeline in the Gulf of Mexico spilled more than 150,000 gallons of oil. Government regulators should not reward their eco-recklessness.

Of primary concern is the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, one of the last undeveloped areas left in the United States. Exxon and BP are aggressively lobbying Congress to open up the Arctic Refuge, and are two of the principle owners of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline system (TAPS). Mobil and Amoco are minority owners of the TAPS. The proposed mergers would consolidate ownership of the pipeline even more, raising serious anti-trust issues concerning America’s Arctic.

In September consumer advocates warned that the proposed merger of BP and Amoco would lead to more consolidation in the oil industry. That is obviously happening. Texaco, Chevron, Unocal and ARCO are probably looking over their shoulders as this mad rush to consolidate and remonopolize shakes up Big Oil.

The mergers would contribute to an excessive concentration of financial and political power in a small number of huge corporations. The original authors of the antitrust laws sought to avoid excessive concentrations of power. As a result Standard Oil was broken up into 34 companies in 1911.

Now Standard Oil of New York Exxon -- and New Jersey Mobil are getting back together. Will the cloning and reinstallation of John D. Rockefeller as CEO be far behind?

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U.S. PIRG is the national lobbying office for the state Public Interest Research Groups. PIRGs are non-partisan, non-profit environmental and consumer watchdog organizations that are active across the country.



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