Nine Moroccan hydrocarbon companies agree to 1.84 Billion dirhams settlement for breaching competition law

Nine companies operating in Morocco’s hydrocarbon sector have reached settlements totaling 1,840,410,426 Moroccan Dirhams, concluding an investigation prompted by suspected breaches of competition laws.

The settlements come following inquiries initiated by the Competition Council in response to legislative changes in June 2023 (Law No. 40.21 and Law No. 41.21).

These companies sought resolution after receiving reproach notices under Article 29 of Law No. 104.12. The settlements signify their decision to resolve potential legal issues related to alleged violations of competition regulations, addressing concerns raised during the investigations.

The agreements aim to address compliance concerns, including ensuring competitive integrity, preventing anti-competitive practices, and enhancing consumer protection within the petroleum market. They mandate strict adherence to competition laws, independent price adjustments, comprehensive reporting on sales and distribution activities, and the implementation of internal oversight measures.

The Council stated in a statement that the companies agreed to pay this amount and affirmed their “commitment to a set of pledges regarding their actions, with the aim of improving the competitive functioning of the fuel market in the future and p reventing the risks of prejudice to competition for the benefit of the consumer.”

To help the Council oversee the competitive progress in specific markets, especially regarding how gasoline prices for the public relate to international prices, the Council stressed that the commitments require companies to “prepare and send detailed reports.” These reports will track the supply, storage, and distribution of gasoline individually by each company.

These reports will be submitted to the Competition Council over a three-year period, providing quarterly updates on monthly purchases, sales of stations by each company, and their gasoline stock levels. The companies also committed to adjusting their prices in line with market demand, supply dynamics, storage limitations, and their commercial policies.

The Council further explained that these companies will set up a system allowing independent service stations in their network to instantly adjust their selling prices without prior approval. They also pledged not to link benefits from discount programs to prices suggested by them.

To prevent risks of anti-competitive practices related to sensitive information exchange, the Council outlined commitments requiring the adoption of best practices in handling this information, especially concerning shared infrastructure in storage and catering operations. The Council intends to issue guidelines to ensure compliance with competition regulations.

To ensure accountability, the Competition Council will monitor the companies’ compliance with legislation and will receive regular evaluation reports from them. This commitment aims to enhance transparency and uphold fair competition practices.

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