The European Commission has opened formal proceedings to investigate whether Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH), its gas supply subsidiary Bulgargaz and its gas infrastructure subsidiary Bulgartransgaz might be hindering competitors from accessing key gas infrastructures in Bulgaria, in breach of EU antitrust rules.
An opening of proceedings does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation, the EC said.
The Commission said that it has concerns that the Bulgarian energy incumbent BEH and its subsidiaries may be abusing their dominant market position on the natural gas markets in Bulgaria, in breach of Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
“In particular, the Commission has concerns that these companies may be preventing potential competitors from accessing the Bulgarian gas transmission network and the gas storage facility by explicitly or tacitly refusing or delaying access to third parties.
“In addition, these companies may be preventing competitors from accessing the main gas import pipeline by reserving capacity that is consistently not used, without releasing it on the market. Without access to this key infrastructure, it is impossible for any companies to compete with Bulgargaz on the Bulgarian gas supply markets.”
Such practices, if established, restrict competition and may lead to less choice and worse gas supply conditions, ultimately to the harm of EU consumers, the EC said.