Senate Takes Up NOPEC: a bill to amend the Sherman Act to make oil-producing and exporting cartels illegal may have positive reception from Pres. Trump; previous attempts to pass the bill died under veto threat by Bush, Obama

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has introduced a bipartisan NOPEC bill in the Senate.  The Senate bill comes on the heels of the May 2018 introduction to the House of Representatives of House Bill H.R.5904, its own version of NOPEC.

The two NOPEC bills would let the federal government take action against price fixing by OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

The No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act, or NOPEC, would explicitly authorize the Justice Department to bring lawsuits against oil cartel members for antitrust violations. It would clarify that neither sovereign immunity nor the “Act of State” doctrine prevents a court from ruling on antitrust charges brought against foreign governments for engaging in illegal pricing, production and distribution of petroleum products.

“It’s long past time to put an end to illegal price fixing by OPEC. We’re also committed to reducing our reliance on foreign oil, especially when it’s artificially and illegally priced. Our bill shows the OPEC members we will not tolerate their flagrant antitrust violations,” Senator Grassley said in a statement.

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), a co-sponsor of the Senate bill, said the bipartisan legislation would allow U.S. antitrust laws to be enforced against OPEC producers, something the Sherman Act prohibits.

During the House’s markup session on June 13, Ohio Congressman Steve Chabot said it was the fifth time he has introduced the legislation since the fall of 2000. “We’re going back 18 years here,” he said, “so it’s [been introduced and debated] under both Republican and Democratic administrations.”

Full text of the proposed Senate legislation is available here.

Oil & Gas 360®’s coverage of the House NOPEC bill is here.



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