Firm takes oil sector to Competition Tribunal

2012-04-14 14:56

A small-time oil company has taken the entire national oil industry to the Competition Tribunal, accusing it of bullying.

Gas2Liquid this week brought its complaint before the tribunal for a ruling.

According to Daryl Ackerman, legal representative for Gas2Liquids, arguments were concluded on Friday and a ruling is expected in the course of the month.

In papers lodged before the Competition Tribunal, Gas2Liquids, with a turnover R2?billion, complains that the main industry body denied it membership of the SA Petroleum Industry Association (Sapia).

The company has applied for a ruling declaring certain commercial information openly available. The documentation says that they seek an order declaring that the information does not constitute confidential information in terms of the Competition Act.

Among the 16 respondents in the matter are BP South Africa, Chevron South Africa, Engen, Sasol, Shell South Africa Marketing, Total South Africa, PetroSA and Easigas. Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies is also one of the respondents.

The information concerned is from Davies. In its application, Gas2Liquids seeks to challenge confidentiality claims made on behalf of Sapia members and the ministry.

They want the information concerned to be given to Gas2Liquids and be made available to the public.

The company further alleges that shortly thereafter it was denied access to the infrastructure at Durban harbour that would enable it to import its products through that port. The members of Sapia own and control the infrastructure of the port.

As a consequence of the denial of access, Gas2Liquids has had to use an alternative port outside the country – Matola Port in Mozambique.

Importing through Matola has been costly, says Mahendren Munsam, chief executive of Gas2Liquids.

“On the basis of a calculation that Gas2Liquids incurs an additional cost of 26c per litre in bringing about 48?million litres of fuel in through Matola, Gas2Liquids incurs additional costs to the tune of R12.5 million per year,” he said in an affidavit.

Gas2Liquids alleges that the big industry players have prevented its use of the Transnet pipeline, the use of the Transnet rail tankers, and the use of the Watloo and Tarlton distribution terminals.

The company is seeking relief from further alleged uncompetitive commercial behaviour.

Sapia is defending the action.

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