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Oil industry consolidation and refined product prices: Evidence from US gasoline terminals

by Walls, W. D. and Kendix, M.

Our objective in this paper is to quantify the impact of petroleum industry consolidation on refined product prices, controlling for other important factors that could also impact prices. Our empirical analysis focuses on the US petroleum refining industry using data on industry consolidation and wholesale gasoline prices collected over the interval 2000–2008. We match refinery units to wholesale city-terminal gasoline markets, and then estimate pooled cross-section time-series regressions to quantify the impact of petroleum industry consolidation on wholesale gasoline prices at city-specific terminals. The results of the empirical analysis of mergers are mixed, showing that some petroleum industry mergers resulted in statistically significant increases in refined product prices; others resulted in statistically significant declines and still others had no statistical impact at all. Our analysis of the effects of measures of market concentration—one at the level of city-specific wholesale terminals and another at the level of regional spot markets—found evidence that less concentrated markets are associated with lower price levels.

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