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EU Solves Antitrust Spat with Russia's State Gas Producer

The Commission is now inviting EU states to review the deal it has struck with Gazprom before it is firmed up

European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager speaks during a media conference regarding Gazprom at EU headquarters in Brussels on Monday, March 13, 2017, photo: AP/Virginia Mayo
9 months ago

BRUSSELS – Russia’s state-owned gas producer, Gazprom, has agreed to a series of concessions to address the European Union’s concerns about its market dominance in the supply of energy to Eastern Europe.

The EU’s executive Commission said Monday that Gazprom has agreed to price gas at market competitive prices. It will allow countries in the region to re-sell the gas they buy — something that became a political issue in recent years when some EU countries were selling their gas to Ukraine, to which Russia had cut off supplies during the war there.

Gazprom has also agreed not to own the pipelines through which it supplies its gas, as that would give it excessive control over the country being supplied.

“It could benefit millions of European that rely on gas to heat their homes and fuel their businesses,” said antitrust commissioner Margrethe Vestager. “We believe that Gazprom’s commitments will enable the free flow of gas in Central and Eastern Europe at competitive prices.”

Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009 file photo, an employee of Russian gas monopoly Gazprom works at a desk in the main control room in Moscow, Russia. Photo: AP/Mikhail Metzel

The issue is important to Eastern European countries, which import most of their gas from Russia and are worried about the political leverage that gives Moscow. The European Commission says Gazprom has used that market dominance to obtain advantages on price and to control the pipelines through which its gas flows.

The Commission is now inviting EU states to review the deal it has struck with Gazprom before it is firmed up.

Gazprom’s deputy CEO, Alexander Medvedev, said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies that the company’s obligations reflected its readiness to “duly address relevant concerns of the European Commission on gas market issues.”

“We hope the Commission — and eventually markets — will respond positively to our proposal, which is to push forward the procedure and close the case in the nearest future,” Medvedev said.

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