Antitrust and Unfair Competition > Energy Industry Antitrust

The energy industry has been a prime focus of antitrust enforcement for more than 100 years, dating back to Standard Oil Company v. United States, which resulted in the breakup of Standard Oil. Antitrust issues can present challenges at every layer of this complex industry. To help business meet these challenges efficiently and successfully, law firms need more than legal expertise—they need to understand the energy business and speak its language. We do.

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP is a premier energy antitrust firm. We know the industry backwards and forwards and are well versed in virtually all antitrust matters—upstream, downstream or midstream—arising in the oil and gas, coal, petrochemical, electric power and associated sectors. Our knowledge and experience draw on the firm’s long history in the oil patch, our decades of experience in handling high-stakes antitrust matters for some of the nation’s largest energy companies and the public policy perspective that is an Akin Gump hallmark.

Our work for energy companies covers the full antitrust spectrum. We counsel on compliance, we find business-friendly solutions to legal problems, we advise boards of directors on merger antitrust risks, we handle Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) filings and second requests, we advocate before the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) and we litigate.

Representative energy antitrust matters include the following:

Mergers, Acquisitions and Joint Ventures

  • represented a major electric power company in numerous merger transactions, including defending a lengthy DOJ second request investigation and securing antitrust clearance for a multibillion-dollar horizontal merger that created one of the largest investor-owned electric systems in the country
  • defended large master limited partnership (MLP) in an FTC investigation of a multibillion-dollar horizontal merger—antitrust issues involved production, gathering, processing, storage, transportation (land and offshore) and sale of natural gas, as well as production, transportation and storage of ethane, propane and other NGLs—and negotiated consent order permitting transaction to close
  • defended a gas pipeline company in a lengthy government investigation of a multibillion-dollar horizontal merger that presented antitrust issues in multiple pipeline markets across the country; negotiated complex consent order permitting consummation of merger, which created the nation’s largest pipeline company
  • represented a major gas midstream company in lengthy FTC and state attorney general investigations of several large horizontal mergers and joint ventures, including combination (through minority ownership interests) with two major integrated petroleum companies in one of the largest mergers in history, presenting antitrust issues in numerous gas processing, transportation and NGL markets
  • defended numerous firms in DOJ antitrust investigations of large horizontal mergers in the oilfield equipment industry, involving such products and services as drilling mud, diamond and conventional drill bits, drill pipe, oil country tubular goods (OCTG), pipe threading, pumping equipment, compressors and valves
  • defended a major oil and gas company in the government investigation of simultaneous multibillion-dollar acquisitions of two large competitors, presenting antitrust issues in gas gathering and transportation
  • defended large electric power and gas pipeline company in two multibillion-dollar horizontal merger transactions; government antitrust investigations involved both electricity supply and gas/electric “convergence” issues
  • defended firms in government antitrust investigations of petrochemical industry mergers, including issues arising on both input (supply and transportation of NGL and other feedstock) and output sides of business
  • defended major nationwide energy infrastructure construction firm in the government investigation, and clearance, of a large horizontal merger
  • represented a natural gas producer on joint venture input and output antitrust issues regarding large liquefied natural gas (LNG) supply, terminalling and regasification project
  • counseled a consortium of major natural gas producers on joint venture and other antitrust issues presented by a pipeline construction project.

Litigation

  • defended a large Russian oil company in an antitrust class action alleging collusion with members of OPEC—the district court granted a motion to dismiss, the 5th Circuit affirmed and the Supreme Court denied cert
  • defended one of the world’s largest integrated petroleum companies in private antitrust litigation attacking various consummated mergers and charging monopolization and conspiracy related to alleged efforts to raise local and nationwide natural gas prices and eliminate pipeline competition; secured Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal with prejudice
  • successfully petitioned the FTC on behalf of four major refiners to bring an antitrust case challenging the patent holder’s deception in the standard-setting process to gain monopoly power over the California reformulated gasoline market, then represented the refiners in resulting trial that culminated in a consent order prohibiting enforcement of relevant patents
  • defended a large electric and natural gas distribution company from antitrust class actions alleging gas price fixing in the wake of the California energy crisis
  • represented an Indian tribe in a suit against the United States for failure to collect full royalties due on oil and gas production on the reservation; obtained a series of favorable rulings in successive trials, resulting in a $380 million settlement payment to the tribe
  • defended a large refiner and marketer in a massive consumer class action multidistrict litigation (MDL) claiming that the failure to adjust price or volume when selling motor fuel warmer than the alleged industry standard of 60° F at retail is a deceptive practice violating state consumer protection statutes
  • represented a major coal producer in an antitrust litigation challenging a covenant not to compete between two railroads that blocked competitive rail service to a coal mine
  • represented refiners in two nationwide FTC antitrust investigations involving pricing and production of refined petroleum products.