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Antitrust Considerations in Acquisitions and Mergers in the Petroleum Industry

MOSES LASKY, Proceedings of 9th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (1964)

SIX APPROACHES OR CONTOUR LINES OF ANTITRUST ANALYSIS OF ACQUISITIONS IN THE INDUSTRY

One approaches the subject of this paper on the basis of six facts. Or, if a lawyer may be permitted to intrude upon the language of mathematicsat the risk of misusing the terminologythere are six parameters. I sense intuitively that a parameter is half-way between a paralysis and a perimeter; it is something that confines and circumscribes a problem. In any event the six facts consist of two emotional, two economic and two legal facts.

Two Emotional Factors: Oil Is Evil and Bigness Is Bad

Milton, in his Paradise Lost, tells us that the archfiend was hurled from heaven into a burning lake and there he lay for nine days and nights.1 Obviously, it was a settling tank of Middle East oil, around the corner from the Garden of Eden, and it left oil Satan-tainted ever since. At least, it is a pervasive piece of folklore that oil is evil, and law enforcement agencies share the emotional biases of the public. Indeed, it would be truer to say [258] that they amplify or magnify the biases of the public. This is the first emotional parameter.

The second is that the American public is schizophrenic. It is proud of big business and large enterprise, particularly in times of war and emergency. But concurrently it is suspicious of bigness and of mergers. Antitrust law enfo