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Shell CEO Says Too Early to Speculate About Oil Probe

Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) Chief Executive Officer Peter Voser said it’s too early to speculate about the European oil-price fixing probe and the company is committed to the “highest standard of corporate behavior.”

Shell, BP Plc and Statoil ASA (STL) are targets of a European Commission inquiry into whether prices of crude, refined oil products and biofuels were manipulated, potentially harming consumers. Platts, a price assessor owned by McGraw Hill Financial Inc. (MHFI), was also questioned as the probe was announced last week.

“Since the investigation has just commenced it would be inappropriate to speculate about the outcome,” Voser told shareholders at the company’s annual general meeting in The Hague today. Shell is committed “to achieve the highest standard of corporate behavior.”

The commission is trying to determine whether oil companies colluded to distort prices in the $3.4 trillion global crude market and in markets for fuel products. The probe has highlighted that some energy markets lack the transparency of stocks and bonds.

Shell Chief Financial Officer Simon Henry told reporters the company doesn’t know the exact focus of the probe and that it could go on for a long time. Platts’s price-assessment process is “as transparent as it can be,” he said.

“It’s important to bear in mind at this stage it’s just an investigation into facts and evidence and no adverse finding has been made,” Voser said today. “All Shell companies have fully cooperated with the EU investigation and will continue to do so going forward.”

Platts’s North Sea Dated Brent benchmark sets the price of half the world’s crude, from Canada to Australia. Its kerosene assessments are used by the airline industry, where fuel accounts for about a third of operating costs. In the biofuels markets, the company assesses the price of ethanol and biodiesel as well as ethyl tert-butyl ether, an additive that’s used in gasoline production.

To contact the reporters on this story: Brian Swint in London at bswint@bloomberg.net; Eduard Gismatullin in London at egismatullin@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at wkennedy3@bloomberg.net

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