Survey of Department of Energy Data on Gasoline Overcharges by Oil Companies

EMD-79-108: Published: Sep 19, 1979. Publicly Released: Oct 22, 1979.

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Since the formation of the Department of Energy (DOE) on October 1, 1977, the Economic Regulatory Administration (ERA) has been responsible for ensuring that oil companies comply with the petroleum regulations. The ERA compliance program is organized into two major components, the Office of Special Counsel for Compliance, which is responsible for auditing the 34 major refiners, and the Office of Enforcement, which is responsible for auditing all other oil firms. Each of these components is responsible for determining whether its designated segment of the petroleum industry is complying with applicable pricing and allocation regulations, identifying violations, and initiating and executing whatever enforcement actions are necessary to remedy the violations.

Since October 1, 1977, 109 civil violation notices have been issued against the 34 major refiners, while 1,230 civil and criminal violations have been issued against all other firms. The 34 major refiners have been assessed overcharges totaling about $4.9 billion. Because some of the cases are in litigation and the courts will probably determine the final amount, the actual overcharges will be corrected in the form of rollbacks in prices, refunds, bank adjustments, etc. A review was recently initiated to determine whether fraud exists in DOE programs, and to what extent there are weaknesses in the management and internal controls of such programs. A report will be issued on this review early in 1980.

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