A national newspaper today reported a new twist in BP-Amoco's attempt to take over Atlantic Richfield Co., known in Alaska as Arco.
USA Today reported BP offered to sell all of Arco's Alaska assets to end a court battle with the Federal Trade Commission, which considers the merger a violation of federal antitrust laws.
The FTC voted Feb. 2 to file a lawsuit seeking to block BP Amoco's takeover of Arco. A hearing on the FTC's request for a preliminary injunction is scheduled for U.S. District Court in San Francisco on March 20.
Negotiations between BP and FTC officials are ongoing. USA Today reported the federal agency is reviewing four prospective buyers for all of Arco's assets in Alaska.
The newspaper did not name its sources, but indicated they were lawyers familiar with the negotiations. Associated Press queries to FTC and BP officials were not answered by midday today.
Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles reached an agreement last year with BP that the London-based corporation divest some of its Alaska assets. Under the agreement, BP was to sell about 16 percent of its North Slope oil production capacity to one or more companies as a way to promote competition.
BP also agreed to sell some of its ownership in the trans-Alaska pipeline.
A federal judge this week ruled Alaska can be part of BP's defense in its legal dispute with the FTC. The federal agency opposed that move.
FTC officials and lawyers for the states of California, Oregon and Washington say a merged BP Amoco-Arco would gain virtual control of Alaska crude oil supplies to West Coast refineries. That would give the new company the power to force price increases at the gas pump, the FTC said.
BP's proposal to sell all of Arco's Alaska assets was seen as an attempt to reduce opposition within the FTC, USA Today reported.