The Competition Commission (Commission) has referred a complaint investigation to the Competition Tribunal (Tribunal) regarding alleged cartel conduct by six oil companies, as well as the South African Petroleum Industry Association (SAPIA), in relation to the supply of commercial diesel in South Africa. The respondents to the referral are the South African operations of Chevron, Engen, Shell, Total, BP and Sasol, as well as SAPIA.
The Commission has asked that the Tribunal impose an administrative penalty of up to 10% of each respondent's annual turnover. The Commission alleges that (i) the oil companies agreed to use the Wholesale List Selling Price (WLSP) published by the Department of Energy as the basis for pricing diesel to commercial customers, alternatively there was a concerted practice amongst the oil companies to do so; and (ii) the sharing of disaggregated and later aggregated volume information by the oil companies (by product, magisterial district and customer segment), through SAPIA, resulted in the oil companies fixing prices, allocating customers and dividing markets. In particular, the Commission alleges that the sharing of volume information had the result that the respondents did not discount as aggressively as they should have, and did not enter particular regions or pursue customers of one another.
The Commission is continuing to investigate conduct of certain oil companies relating to other petroleum product categories. A Webber Wentzel team lead by Robert Wilson and Desmond Rudman is representing Sasol in these proceedings.