Oil company accused of manipulating propane prices

| 6/30/2006

In a blow to the image of an already maligned industry, federal investigators have accused traders from petroleum company BP Amoco LLC of illegally manipulating prices on propane in 2004.

The Associated Press reported that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission claims that BP traders – with the full consent of the company’s management – purchased large quantities of propane to establish a dominant position in the market, then withheld the fuel to drive prices higher.

The commission has filed a civil lawsuit against BP Products North America Inc., a Warrenville, IL-based unit of the British company.

BP officials have publicly denied any wrong doing on the part of the company, The AP reported.

This isn’t the first bad publicity to hit BP lately. The AP reported that the Environmental Protection Agency is investigating a March crude oil spill at one of BP’s Alaskan facilities. The company also is facing lawsuits from the victims of a deadly explosion last year at one of its refineries in Texas.

As if that weren’t enough, a group of black leaders including Rev. Jesse Jackson is urging a protest against the company, claiming that it gouges its customers and racially discriminates in its business practices, according to The AP.