BERLIN, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Russia is trying to build a gas cartel in Europe by linking up with Algeria, a top EU official said.
EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs of Latvia said if Russia and Algeria agreed to cooperate in the production and distribution of gas to Europe, "they could create a kind of cartel," The International Herald Tribune reported.
A cartel is a group of formally independent producers whose goal is to increase collective profits through price fixing, limiting supply or other restrictive practices.
Russia and Algeria combined would provide 35 percent of European gas supplies and such a concentration of resources could hinder competition, Piebalgs said.
The commission is trying to break up some of the biggest European energy companies by separating production, transmission and distribution to give consumers greater choice.
Piebalgs said the Russian state-owned gas monopoly Gazprom had had talks with Algerian authorities and with Algeria's state-owned petroleum company Sonatrach.