Former oil CEO blasts FTC over collusion allegations

By Ben Lefebvre, Josh Sisco | 05/29/2024 06:41 AM EDT

The FTC’s case “is built on a false narrative,” former Pioneer Natural Resources CEO Scott Sheffield said.

Gas is pumped into a vehicle in Los Angeles.

The FTC says the head of Pioneer Natural Resources worked to coordinate U.S. crude oil production with OPEC. Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The former CEO of one of the United States’ top oil companies fired back Tuesday on the Federal Trade Commission’s allegations that he had colluded with OPEC to boost fuel prices — contending the agency “unjustly smeared” him.

Lawyers for Scott Sheffield, the former chief executive of Texas-based Pioneer Natural Resources, filed paperwork demanding that the FTC drop a recent settlement agreement in which the agency had aired the accusations. In the settlement, the FTC allowed Exxon Mobil to buy Pioneer, but on the condition that Sheffield not be allowed to serve on Exxon’s board.

The former oil executive’s rebuttal comes as oil and gasoline prices look likely to play an increasingly prominent role in the presidential race amid stubborn inflation fueled partly by high energy costs.


The 23-page response filed with the FTCcontends that the collusion allegations are false, saying the agency misrepresented his communications with competitors and afforded him no due process to defend himself. The commission alleged last month that Sheffield had exchanged text messages, phone calls and emails with OPEC officials and other U.S. oil executives to fix oil production levels in a bid to inflate crude prices — including during a period when U.S. gasoline prices hit an all-time high.