D.C. digs into gas station owner Mamo, gas prices and antitrust

(Washington Business Journal – by Michael Neibauer) Gas prices in D.C. are high. In some cases (we’re looking at you, Watergate Exxon) inexplicably, off-the-charts high. Now the District is investigating what role one thriving gas station owner, who happens to own more than 150 D.C.-area gas stations and their associated real estate, has played in the recent price spike.

Joe Mamo, principal owner of Springfield-based Capitol Petroleum Group LLC, owns nearly half of all gas stations in D.C. and a quarter of those in the region, according to this February article from the Washington City Paper. That story, perhaps, combined with soaring gas prices, may have inspired Attorney General Irv Nathan to launch an antitrust investigation.

“Everyone knows gasoline prices are high and we’re going to do everything we can to bring them down and be sure that it is a competitive market,” Nathan said Wednesday during Mayor Vincent Gray’s weekly press briefing.

As for whether Mamo holds a monopoly on D.C. stations, Nathan said, “It is a technical, legal term that requires proof.”

“There is an active investigation of this matter,” he said, declining to offer anything in the way of detail. “We are seeking the evidence and it depends on what we have.”

He suggested there may be civil investigative demands or subpoenas issued.

Capitol Petroleum Group, according to its website, sold in excess of 88 million gallons of motor fuel products in 2009, and was expected to sell 260 million gallons in 2010. It is an authorized distributor for Exxon-Mobil and Shell, operates 164 stations in the D.C. region and recently purchased 71 stations in New York.

No one at CPG was available to comment. The City Paper’s interview with Mamo, according to the article, was the first in-depth he’d ever given.

AAA’s average price for a gallon of unleaded gas in D.C., as of Wednesday, was $4.20. A gallon of premium will run drivers $4.48.

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