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The Wall Street Journal: EU Fines Shell, Total, 12 Others In Bitumen Price-Fixing Case

September 14, 2006; Page A10

BRUSSELS — The European Union’s executive fined 14 companies a total of €266.7 million ($338.5 million) for fixing prices of bitumen, a material used in road construction.

Oil company Royal Dutch Shell PLC was hit with the biggest fine, €108 million, as a repeat offender, while French counterpart Total SA was fined €20.3 million. BP PLC got full immunity for cooperating in the probe, escaping a €30.8 million fine.

“We should not have attended these meetings and we regret our involvement in this case,” said President-Director Rein Willems of Shell Nederland BV. Regulators found eight suppliers and six purchasers participated in a cartel in the Netherlands from 1994 to 2002.

The other companies fined were Kuwait Petroleum Corp., Sweden’s AB Nynas, Ballast Nedam NV, Wintershall AG, Esha, Klockner Bitumen, Dura Vermeer NV, Heijmans NV, Hollandsche Beton Groep NV, Groep BAM NV and Volker Wessels Stevin NV.

BAM, Nedam, Heijmans and Beton said they would appeal the fines.

The cartel fines represent the seventh largest ever levied by EU regulators. Companies are liable for as much as 10% of their world-wide revenue if they are found to participate in cartels.

The companies are allowed to appeal all decisions to the European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg.

The cartel covered all bitumen used for road construction in the Netherlands, a market valued at around €62 million in 2002. EU antitrust spokesman Jonathan Todd said although the Dutch bitumen market is small, the fines are high because large companies were involved and the cartel lasted a long time.

Shell and Kuwait Petroleum were fined by regulators in Italy in 2000 and Sweden in 2005 for gasoline price-fixing in those countries. and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

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