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Gazprom Avoids Fine In EU Antitrust Settlement

Gazprom has dodged a fine in the settlement of the seven-year-long antitrust dispute with the European Union (EU), after the Russian gas giant agreed to change market behavior and ensure competitive gas prices in Central and Eastern Europe.

The European Commission (EC) imposed on Thursday legally binding obligations on Gazprom to address competition concerns and enable free flow of gas at competitive prices.

Gazprom is the dominant gas supplier in many Central and Eastern European countries, and the Commission’s binding obligations will change the way the Russian company operates in those gas markets.

The binding commitments include Gazprom removing any restrictions on customers to re-sell gas cross-border, and enabling gas flows to and from parts of Central and Eastern Europe that are still isolated from other EU Member States due to the lack of interconnectors—the Baltic States and Bulgaria. The Russian company will also have to commit to a structured process to ensure competitive gas prices—its customers will have a contractual right to ask for a lower gas price, if the price they pay diverges from competitive Western benchmarks, including prices at liquid hubs. In addition, “Gazprom cannot act on any advantages concerning gas infrastructure, which it may have obtained from customers by having leveraged its market position in gas supply,” the EC said.

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“Today’s decision removes obstacles created by Gazprom, which stand in the way of the free flow of gas in Central and Eastern Europe. But more than that – our decision provides a tailor-made rulebook for Gazprom’s future conduct. It obliges Gazprom to take positive steps to further integrate gas markets in the region and to help realise a true internal market for energy in Europe,” Commissioner in charge of competition policy, Margrethe Vestager, said.

Gazprom is satisfied with the EU decision and believes that it is “the most reasonable outcome for the well functioning of the entire European gas market,” Alexander Medvedev, Deputy Chairman of Gazprom’s Management Committee said.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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