UPDATE 1-Firms raided in three countries over oil pricing -EU Commission

Tue May 14, 2013 10:50am EDT

* Raids follow announcements from Statoil, Shell

* Commission also requested inspections in one non-EU member state (Adds further detail)

BRUSSELS May 14 (Reuters) - Officials carried out raids in three European countries on Tuesday on several companies active in pricing oil, refined products and biofuels, the European Commission said.

The Commission said it had concerns the companies may have colluded to manipulate published prices and may have prevented others from taking part in the assessment of market prices.

It did not identify the firms, but the announcement followed separate statements by Norway's Statoil and Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell as well as price reporting agency Platts that they were working with the authorities in their inquiries.

The Commission said its inspectors raided companies in two EU member states and had asked for similar action in a non-EU member by European Free Trade Association (EFTA) officials.

Unannounced inspections are a preliminary step to investigate suspected anticompetitive practices.

There is no legal deadline to complete inquiries into suspected anti-competitive conduct and the Commission said the raids did not mean the companies were guilty of any charges. (Reporting by Barbara Lewis; editing by Rex Merrifield)