FTC Clears Way for Chevron to Acquire Unocal

Settlement wraps up RFG issue; Chevron will not enforce patents

Published in CSP Daily News

WASHINGTON -- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Friday cleared the way for Chevron Corp. to acquire Unocal Corp. for $18 billion, voting 4 to 0 to settle a two-year-old complaint against Unocal alleging anticompetitive practices, said the Associated Press.

The settlement ends a legal fight between Unocal and the FTC over the energy company's rights to a patent for reformulated gasoline.

The regulatory agency said the key element of the settlement is Chevron's agreement not to enforce patents of a Unocal subsidiary that could [image-nocss] have increased gasoline prices in California by over half a billion dollars a year, or almost six cents a gallon.

The FTC's longstanding complaint alleged that Unocal subsidiary Union Oil illegally acquired monopoly power in the technology market for producing low-emission gasoline mandated by the state of California. The complaint said Union Oil misrepresented to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) that certain gasoline research was nonproprietary and in the public domain, while simultaneously pursuing a patent that would enable it to charge substantial royalties if CARB used the research results in developing regulations.

San Ramon, Calif.-based Chevron announced in April the agreement to acquire El Segundo, Calif.-based Unocal. The proposed acquisition remains subject to approval by Unocal stockholders and the fulfillment of other customary conditions.

Chevron explores for, refines and transports crude oil and gas, and operates a retail network. Unocal's operations are in exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas, with no refineries, and it no longer has any gas stations. Together the two companies have more than 11% of U.S. crude oil production.

FTC Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras recused herself from voting on the matter.