Guam faces increased gas prices, neglect from Federal Trade Commission

by Feb 6, 2018Guam0 comments

Over the course of the last month, gas prices in Guam have increased three times, by more than 30 cents/gallon for regular grade. In the last week alone, the island’s three retailers, Shell, 76/Circle K., and Mobil increased prices by a further 15 cents per gallon in unison with one another, bringing the cost for a gallon of regular grade gasoline up from $4.03 to $4.18. Mobil Oil Guam’s president has explained the reasoning for this as being quite simple; because all three companies buy gas from the same place (Singapore), they therefore all have similar costs, and must adjust prices accordingly with one another.

However, lawmakers in Guam have asked that the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) to look into this long-standing practice between the triad, who have engaged in this parallel raising of prices for some time.   The FTC, whose role it is to investigate unfair competition and similar violations in antitrust, ultimately declined to further investigate increasing gas prices. In an official release, the Commission found no reason to proceed given the “nature and amount of consumer injury at issue [as well as] the number of consumers affected.” The FTC appears to be claiming that it was the island’s small size which was the impetus for its decision not to investigate any further.

In order to take action, says Senator Mike San Nicolas (D), federal officials were “seeking a letter” from the Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo (D). He asked in a recent release if she “ever sent the follow up letters,” which would have officially requested the House Committee on Judiciary to follow up with the Federal Trade Commission. His concern, he said, pertained to the ten percent rise in the price of gasoline in the last two months alone. Congresswoman Bordallo claims that “no such letter,” would have affected the FTC’s January decision, claiming that Nicolas is attempting to shift blame after having received an unfavorable response. For his own part, Nicolas attributes the government of Guam’s inability to move the FTC to action to a “lack of impetus.” It remains to be seen whether the case will be revisited, or if gas prices will continue to rise.