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U.K. Competition Authority Investigates Gasoline Prices at Pump

The U.K. Office of Fair Trading began an investigation of the country’s gasoline market on concern that it isn’t competitive enough.

The authority will explore whether falling crude oil prices are reflected at gasoline pumps, whether independent retailers can compete with supermarkets and larger chains and if there is price coordination among rivals, it said today on its website.

“We are keenly aware of continuing widespread concern about the pump price of petrol and diesel and we have heard a number of different claims about how the market is operating,” said Claire Hart, an OFT director. The investigation “will help us determine whether claims about competition problems are well-founded and whether further action is warranted.”

The Automobile Association lobby welcomed the announcement, saying it’s hard for consumers to know when they’re paying a fair price. BP Plc will cooperate with the probe, a spokeswoman said. A Royal Dutch Shell Plc spokeswoman declined to comment.

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