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ACCC Not To Oppose Mobil/Exxon Merger

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will not oppose the merger of the Australian interests of Mobil and Exxon, ACCC Chairman, Professor Allan Fels, said today.

"In December 1998 the proposed global merger between Mobil and Exxon was announced," he said. "The merger will result in the combination of the company's worldwide interests in exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas, petroleum refining and marketing and chemicals manufacturing.

"The ACCC has considered carefully the potential competitive implications of the merger for Australian markets. The ACCC identified that the main area of competitive overlap between the Mobil and Exxon operations within Australia is in their interests in natural gas production and marketing within the eastern States of Australia. Exxon, through its subsidiaries Delhi Petroleum and Esso Australia is engaged in the marketing of natural gas produced from joint venture operations in the Cooper and Gippsland basins. It is also involved in exploration and potential production of natural gas through its interest in the Hides field located in the PNG Highlands. The Hides field is a potential source of gas supplies to Queensland via the proposed Chevron pipeline. Mobil also has exploration and production interests in the PNG Highlands.

"The ACCC took the view that the merger of Exxon and Mobil's gas interests was unlikely to have a substantial effect on competition in any Australian market. The ACCC noted that the merger would result in only a small increase in the combined interests of Mobil and Exxon in the PNG Gas to Queensland project and in addition, neither party is directly involved in the proposed marketing of PNG gas in Australia.

"The ACCC also considered whether the merger would be likely to have any competitive impact within petroleum retail and refinery markets in Australia. Since Exxon ceased all petroleum refinery and retailing operations in Australia in 1990 it has not competed against Mobil in these markets and accordingly, the merger is unlikely to substantially lessen competition.

"The ACCC notes that this merger is still under review by both the European Commission and the US Federal Trade Commission and that these inquiries are unlikely to be completed until the end of the third quarter of this year".

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