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Amoco, Unocal Lift Freeze on Wholesale Prices With PM-Gulf-Gas Prices, Bjt

August 17, 1990

NEW YORK (AP) _ Two oil companies that had frozen wholesale fuel prices as consumers cried foul over steep increases at the pump lifted the moratoriums citing competitive pressure.

Spokesmen for the Amoco Corp. and Unocal Corp. declined to say whether the one-week price freezes caused losses. Amoco and Unocal said they would monitor prices daily and that increases were possible.

President Bush, in a televised address, last week called on the nation’s oil companies to hold down pump prices and not take advantage of market jitters and rising crude oil prices following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.

Amoco and Unocal were among several big oil companies to freeze or lower wholesale prices. The reductions did not directly affect prices at retail gas stations, which by federal law set their own prices.

″There remains a lot of upward pressure,″ Amoco spokesman Michael Thompson said Thursday. ″We’ll be watching the marketplace in the days to come and we’ll see what happens.″

Amoco had frozen prices on gasoline, jet fuel and distillates. Thompson said the company, based in Chicago, did not change prices Thursday it charges wholesalers.

Unocal, based in Los Angeles, had frozen only wholesale gasoline prices. It was to lift the freeze at 3 a.m. EDT today.

″It’s a daily review and hourly review depending on how the market moves,″ Unocal spokesman Jim Bray said. ″We made a marketing decision. Several of the other majors have gone up recently.″

On Wednesday, Atlantic Richfield Co. extended a freeze on gasoline, jet and diesel fuel prices, but said it would review it on a daily basis.

Arco, which sells gasoline at 1,500 stations in five Western states, was the first oil company to announce a freeze after pump prices increased sharply following Iraq’s invasion.

But there was no indication that the freezes were anything more than cosmetic, as crude oil prices have risen only slightly in the interim. On Thursday, crude oil gained 90 cents to $27.36 per 42-gallon barrel, compared with about $26 a barrel a week earlier.

Retail gasoline prices shot up 16 cents a gallon on average after the invasion, but apparently have stabilized at the higher levels. Unleaded, self- service gasoline averaged $1.216 a gallon nationally on Monday, compared with $1.075 a gallon on Aug. 1, according to a spot check by the American Automobile Association.

Phillips Petroleum Co., which cut its wholesale gasoline price by 4.5 cents a gallon on Aug. 8, said Thursday it has increased the price by 1.8 cents since then.

British Petroleum Co.’s U.S. unit, which last Friday said it would hold its pump prices steady and later lowered them by about 3 cents a gallon in most markets, said its prices were about the same.

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