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By Ulysses Torres Sabuco

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Mar. 31) - Responding to Marianas lawmakers’ accusation that is in collusion with Shell, Mobil Oil Marianas says it complies with laws designed "to protect open and competitive markets."

Mobil said it also welcomes the proposal of the Legislature to open the sale and distribution of fuel in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas to other foreign companies.

"Mobil Oil Marianas is an ethical company and abides by all CNMI laws and U.S. anti-trust laws. These anti-trust laws are designed to protect open and competitive markets. Mobil Oil Marianas is committed to rigorous compliance with these laws," said Cecile Bamba-Suda, Mobil Marianas’s manager for public relations and government affairs.

Rep. Joseph P. Deleon Guerrero, R-Saipan, told lawmakers during Monday’s session that he received reports that "sometimes, Shell buys fuel from Mobil."

He said this does not encourage competition.

Deleon Guerrero said a Korean firm, S.K. Co., is interested to distribute and sell petroleum and other fuel products in the CNMI.

Bamba-Suda, in a statement to Variety, said Mobil "welcomes robust and vigorous competition from other suppliers of petroleum products."

She added, "It is Mobil’s policy to compete at the highest level, and in accordance with all applicable laws, rules and regulations, to ensure the people of the CNMI receive the best possible quality of service and product available."

The Legislature will conduct an oversight hearing regarding the recent pump price increases.

The latest increases were the third since January.

Bamba-Suda said Mobil "welcomes the opportunity to discuss" the issue with local leaders.

"The increase in gasoline a result of higher product costs for gasoline in the region. The increases in higher crude cost, worldwide product demand and reduction of supply are among the factors that have impacted the cost of gasoline over the past couple of months," Bamba-Suda said.

March 31, 2004

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