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Notice

Buckeye Partners, L.P., et al.; Analysis To Aid Public Comment

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Federal Trade Commission.

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ACTION:

Proposed Consent Agreement.

SUMMARY:

The consent agreement in this matter settles alleged violations of federal law prohibiting unfair or deceptive acts or practices or unfair methods of competition. The attached Analysis to Aid Public Comment describes both the allegations in the draft complaint that accompanies the consent agreement and the terms of the consent order—embodied in the consent agreement—that would settle these allegations.

DATES:

Comments must be received on or before October 26, 2004.

ADDRESSES:

Comments should refer to “Buckeye Partners, L.P., et al., File No. 041 0162,” to facilitate the organization of comments. A comment filed in paper form should include this reference both in the text and on the envelope, and should be mailed or delivered to the following address: Federal Trade Commission/Office of the Secretary, Room H-159, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20580. Comments containing confidential material must be filed in paper form, as explained in the Supplementary Information section. The FTC is requesting that any comment filed in paper form be sent by courier or overnight service, if possible, because U.S. postal mail in the Washington area and at the Commission is subject to delay due to heightened security precautions. Comments filed in electronic form (except comments containing any confidential material) should be sent to the following email box: consentagreement@ftc.gov.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Lesli Esposito, FTC, Bureau of Competition, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20580, (202) 326-3450.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Pursuant to Section 6(f) of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 38 Stat. 721, 15 U.S.C. 46(f), and Section 2.34 of the Commission's Rules of Practice, 16 CFR 2.34, notice is hereby given that the above-captioned consent agreement containing a consent order to cease and desist, having been filed with and accepted, subject to final approval, by the Commission, has been placed on the public record for a period of thirty (30) days. The following Analysis to Aid Public Comment describes the terms of the consent agreement, and the allegations in the complaint. An electronic copy of the full text of the consent agreement package can be obtained from the FTC Home Page (for September 27, 2004), on the World Wide Web, at http://www.ftc.gov/​os/​2004/​09/​index.htm. A paper copy can be obtained from the FTC Public Reference Room, Room 130-H, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20580, either in person or by calling (202) 326-2222.

Public comments are invited, and may be filed with the Commission in either paper or electronic form. Written comments must be submitted on or before October 26, 2004. Comments should refer to “Buckeye Partners, L.P., et al., File No. 041 0162,” to facilitate the organization of comments. A comment filed in paper form should include this reference both in the text and on the envelope, and should be mailed or delivered to the following address: Federal Trade Commission/Office of the Secretary, Room H-159, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20580. If the comment contains any material for which confidential treatment is requested, it must be filed in paper (rather than electronic) form, and the first page of the document must be clearly labeled “Confidential.” [1] The FTC is requesting that any comment filed in paper form be sent by courier or overnight service, if possible, because U.S. postal mail in the Washington area and at the Commission is subject to delay due to heightened security precautions. Comments filed in electronic form should be sent to the following e-mail box: consentagreement@ftc.gov.

The FTC Act and other laws the Commission administers permit the collection of public comments to consider and use in this proceeding as appropriate. All timely and responsive public comments, whether filed in paper or electronic form, will be considered by the Commission, and will be available to the public on the FTC Web site, to the extent practicable, at http://www.ftc.gov. As a matter of discretion, the FTC makes every effort to remove home contact information for individuals from the public comments it receives before placing those comments on the FTC Web site. More information, including routine uses permitted by the Privacy Act, may be found in the FTC's privacy policy, at http://www.ftc.gov/​ftc/​privacy.htm.

Analysis of Proposed Agreement Containing Consent Order To Aid Public Comment

The Federal Trade Commission, subject to its final approval, has accepted for public comment an Agreement Containing Consent Order (“Proposed Order”) with Buckeye Partners, L.P. (“Buckeye”) and Shell Oil Company (“Shell”), which is designed to guard against possible anticompetitive effects that could result from the transaction, as originally proposed.

On June 30, 2004, Buckeye and Shell entered into a Purchase and Sale Agreement in which Buckeye proposed to acquire a package of refined petroleum pipeline and terminal assets from Shell for approximately $530 million. Included in the assets to be acquired was a Shell refined petroleum terminal in Niles, Michigan. In response to competitive concerns raised by staff, the parties subsequently proposed a modified transaction that excludes the Niles, Michigan terminal from the assets to be acquired. The Proposed Order, if accepted by the Commission, would settle charges that the acquisition, as originally proposed, may have substantially lessened competition in the market for the terminaling of gasoline, diesel fuel, and other light petroleum products in the area within fifty miles of Niles, Michigan.

The Proposed Order has been placed on the public record for thirty days for interested persons to comment. Comments received during this thirty day period will become part of the public record. After thirty days, the Commission will again review the Proposed Order and the comments received and will decide wether it should withdraw the Proposed Order or make the Proposed Order final.

The Proposed Complaint

Buckeye is a partnership engaged in the storage, terminaling, and pipeline transportation of refined petroleum products, including gasoline, diesel fuel, and other light petroleum products. Shell is a diversified energy company engaged directly and through its subsidiaries in the business of manufacturing, refining, distributing, transporting, terminaling, and marketing a range of petroleum products, including gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, base oil, motor oil, lubricants, petrochemicals, and other petroleum products.

The proposed complaint alleges that a relevant line of commerce in which to evaluate the effects of Buckeye's proposed acquisition is the market for Start Printed Page 60392terminaling of gasoline, diesel fuel, and other light petroleum products, and a relevant geographic market may be as small as the area within a fifty-mile radius of Niles, Michigan (“Niles Area”). The proposed complaint further alleges that market for terminaling services in the Niles Area is highly concentrated and that, had the original proposed acquisition been consummated, concentration in that market would have increased by 800 points, as measured by the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index. The acquisition as modified would not change market concentration in the Niles Area because it does not involve the acquisition of Shell's Niles terminal. The proposed complaint also alleges that entry into the terminaling services market in the Niles Area is difficult and would not be timely, likely, or sufficient to deter or counteract the anticompetitive effects of the original proposed acquisition.

The proposed complaint alleges that the acquisition, if consummated as originally proposed, may have led to a substantial lessening of competition in the supply of terminaling services for gasoline, diesel, and other light petroleum products in the Niles Area. The acquisition as originally proposed may have substantially increased concentration in a market that is already highly concentrated. The complaint further alleges competitive harm could result from the elimination of direct competition between Buckeye and Shell in the supply of terminaling services in the Niles Area, and from the increased likelihood of collusion or coordinated interaction between the remaining competitors in the relevant market.

Terms of the Proposed Consent Order

The Proposed Order requires Buckeye to provide prior notification to the Commission of an acquisition of any interest in the Niles terminal, for a period of ten years. The Proposed Order requires Shell to provide prior notification to the Commission of a sale or transfer of any interest in the Niles terminal, for a period of ten years. These provisions require Buckeye and Shell to comply with premerger notification and waiting periods similar to those found in the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, 15 U.S.C. 18a. (“HSR”).

Consistent with the Commission's Statement of Policy Concerning Prior

Approval and Prior Notice Provisions, 60 FR 39745 (Aug. 3, 1995), the Proposed Order ensures that the Commission will have the appropriate mechanism to review a proposed sale of the Niles terminal by Shell, or a proposed acquisition of the Niles terminal by Buckeye, that may raise antitrust concerns but would not be reportable under HSR. The Proposed Order affords the Commission the opportunity to guard against such potentially anticompetitive transactions.

By accepting the Proposed Order, subject to final approval, the Commission anticipates that the competitive problem alleged in the Complaint will be resolved. The purpose of this analysis is to invite public comment concerning the Proposed Order to aid the Commission in its determination of whether it should make final the Proposed Order contained in the agreement. This analysis is not intended to constitute an official interpretation of the Proposed Order or to modify its terms in any way.

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By direction of the Commission.

Donald S. Clark,

Secretary.

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Footnotes

1.  Commission Rule 4.2(d), 16 CFR 4.2(d). The comment must be accompanied by an explicit request for confidential treatment, including the factual and legal basis for the request, and must identify the specific portions of the comment to be withheld from the public record. The request will be granted or denied by the Commission's General Counsel, consistent with applicable law and the public interest. See Commission Rule 4.9(c), 16 CFR 4.9(c).

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[FR Doc. 04-22696 Filed 10-7-04; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6750-01-P