The oil industry apparently compounded current gasoline shortages by stockpiling large amounts of crude oil rather than refining it into gasoline, Federal Trade Commission offical Alfred Dougherty charged yesterday.
Dougherty told a House Government Operations subcommittee that a House Energy and Power subcommittee is launching an investigation into his charges, and has agreed to help the FTC in its own proble of oil industry actions.
Dougherty, director of FTC's Bureau of Competition, said yesterday that a congressional investigation should help improve information gathering.
Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) already has begun to cooperate with the FTC and has asked Department of Energy Secretary James Schlesinger for refinery information, Dougherty said in an interview late yesterday.
Dougherty said currently available information, which he called generally incomplete and contradictory, appears to indicate that earlier this year oil companies stockpiled crude oil rather than refine it.
"In the past, when we sought information from oil companies or the DOE, if we got anything it came late," Dougherty said.
He cited the natural gas industry, which was asked for information in 1971 by the FTC, but didn't turn it over until 1978, when it delivered 40 boxes. But "by that time the war was over," he said.
Dougherty said attempts to share information with the Justice Department on the oil industry - which both are investigating - have been essentially futile.