The European Union has fined 14 companies a total of nearly $340 million for operating a cartel to fix the price of a key asphalt ingredient in the Netherlands.

EU officials announced the fines Wednesday against eight suppliers and six road builders for fixing prices on bitumen from 1994 to 2002.

Bitumen is used to bind surfacing materials to make asphalt.

The bitumen market in the Netherlands was worth about $79 million in the last year of the cartel.

Companies fined as suppliers are BP, Esha, Kloeckner Bitumen, Nynas, Total, Shell and Wintershall. Construction companies named in the fine are Ballast Nedam, Dura Vermeer, Heijmans, Hollandsche Beton Groep and Koninklijke.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.