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    Big Oil Spars with Feds

    Sunoco, ChevronTexaco in fuel dispute.

    NEW YORK -- Four oil firms filed lawsuits this week against the U.S. Department of Defense, seeking a combined $355 million for alleged underpayment in military jet-fuel contracts during the 1980s and 1990s.

    The companies, Sunoco Inc., Crown Central Petroleum, Koch Oil Co. and Sinclair Oil Co., are the first of roughly two dozen firms with active claims against the DOD, including giant ChevronTexaco, to take their cases to court, Reuters reported.

    The companies claim the DOD's fuel-buying wing, the Defense Energy Support Center (DESC), used illegal pricing methods that resulted in underpayment of as much as 10 percent for jet fuel supplied to the U.S. military between 1985 and 1996.

    Among the other companies that have filed claims against the DOD are Phillips Petroleum Corp., Williams Cos. Inc., Coastal Corp., Giant Industries Inc., Navajo Refining, and Berry Oil Co.

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