The European Commission (EC) said on September 4 2012 that it had opened formal proceedings to investigate whether Gazprom, the Russian producer and supplier of natural gas, might be hindering competition in Central and Eastern European gas markets, in breach of EU antitrust rules.
An opening of proceedings does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation; it only means that the Commission will treat the case as a matter of priority, the EC said.
“The Commission has concerns that Gazprom may be abusing its dominant market position in upstream gas supply markets in Central and Eastern European member states, in breach of Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,” the EC said.
The Commission is investigating three suspected anti-competitive practices in Central and Eastern Europe.
First, Gazprom may have divided gas markets by hindering the free flow of gas across EU member states.
Second, Gazprom may have prevented the diversification of supply of gas.
Finally, Gazprom may have imposed unfair prices on its customers by linking the price of gas to oil prices, the EC said.
“Such behaviour, if established, may constitute a restriction of competition and lead to higher prices and deterioration of security of supply. Ultimately, such behaviour would harm EU consumers.”
In September 2011, the European Commission carried out inspections at the premises of gas companies in several EU countries.
(Photo: Jayesh Nair/sxc.hu)