EU Says Gazprom Offers to Settle AntiTrust Case

EU Says Gazprom Offers to Settle Anti-Trust Case

At a meeting with senior company officials, "Gazprom expressed its willingness to explore the possibility of a commitment-based solution to ... competition concerns," EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said.

BRUSSELS -- The European Commission said today that Russian gas giant Gazprom has offered to settle an anti-trust probe that has caused tensions between the EU and Moscow.

At a meeting with senior company officials, "Gazprom expressed its willingness to explore the possibility of a commitment-based solution to ... competition concerns," EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said.

Gazprom (IW 1000/16) will present "draft proposals in writing in the coming days, which the commission will assess," Almunia said in a brief statement.

The commission formally opened its probe in September last year on concerns Gazprom "might be hindering competition in Central and Eastern European gas markets."

At the time, the commission cited in particular Gazprom's role as a major supplier in those markets that gave it a dominant position.

The company might have manipulated gas flows to its advantage, prevented diversification of supply, and, by linking gas prices to oil prices, may have "imposed unfair prices on its customers."

Gazprom's dominant position and close ties to the Russian government meant the probe sparked a tough response, with President Vladimir Putin railing against Brussels.

Gazprom's repeated disputes with Ukraine, whose government has just ditched a planned association accord with the EU, led to the company suspending gas supplies on several occasions, causing uproar in Europe.

Earlier today, the commission cleared Gazprom to take joint or sole control of four Dutch and German gas companies.

Gazprom is take joint control of WINZ and Wintershall Services of the Netherlands, which are involved in oil and gas exploration and production in the North Sea.

It will take over completely Wingas and WIEH, which supply gas mainly in Germany.

The Commission said it took the decisions after concluding the transactions "would not raise competition concerns."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013

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