May 14, 2008 / 8:15 PM / 11 years ago

FTC says takes "deeper look" at jetfuel, diesel

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is taking a “deeper look” at diesel and jet fuel prices amid soaring costs, the agency’s head told a U.S. Senate panel on Wednesday.

“We’re looking at this very carefully,” FTC Chairman William Kovacic told the Senate Appropriations Financial Services and General Government subcommittee. The agency is taking “a deeper look at both jet fuel and diesel,” Kovacic said.

Lawmakers quizzed FTC officials on why prices for jet fuel and diesel have risen more quickly than gasoline, noting that truckers and airlines have taken a big hit.

Soaring demand for diesel fuel in Europe and Asia has been a “notable feature” of price increases, Kovacic said.

Strong demand for diesel fuel in Europe, along with the growing use of distillates for generators to supplement strained power grids in fast-growing emerging markets, have cut into stocks of distillate fuel and pushed up prices sharply.

Sen. Richard Durbin, Illinois Democrat, said the FTC should also examine why U.S. refinery capacity is at about 87 percent, even though gasoline prices are at a record $3.72 a gallon.

Kovacic said the agency is looking “quite carefully” at how refiners decide which products to produce.

“We’re looking very carefully at how adjustments in production process and capacity allocation decisions have affected that,” he said.

Reporting by Chris Baltimore, editing by Matthew Lewis

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