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Europe vetting comments on Russia's control over gas

The European Commission in 2015 said Russian energy company Gazprom was breaking the rules.

By Daniel J. Graeber
The European Commission says it wants to hear any concerns about Russia's role in the regional natural gas market, which it alleges has been breaking European Union antitrust rules. Photo by Jim Parkin/Shutterstock
The European Commission says it wants to hear any concerns about Russia's role in the regional natural gas market, which it alleges has been breaking European Union antitrust rules. Photo by Jim Parkin/Shutterstock

March 13 (UPI) -- All interested parties are invited to offer comments on whether or not Russian natural gas company Gazprom is playing by the rules in Europe, the European Commission said in a report on Monday.

Gazprom is the dominant Russian natural gas company and one of the top suppliers to the European economy. Most of its supplies to Europe run through Soviet-era networks in Central and Eastern Europe.

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A report from the European Commission finds Gazprom is more or less committed to fair competition in the region by selling its gas at a competitive price.

"Gazprom cannot act on any advantages concerning gas infrastructure, which it obtained from customers by having leveraged its market position in gas supply," the commission stated.

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A Polish company known by its initials PGNiG issued a complaint to European justice officials that said Gazprom was not in compliance with rulings on the regional gas market, namely the Russian company's access to the OPAL pipeline. According to the Polish company, Gazprom is striving for "complete dominance" over parts of the European energy market.

Margrethe Vestager, the European commissioner in charge of competition policy, said Gazprom has largely addressed many of the commission's competition concerns.

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"We now want to hear the views of customers and other stakeholders and will carefully consider them before taking any decision," she said in a statement.

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The commission said that if Gazprom is found to be operating outside its commitments, it could face a fine of up to 10 percent of its global turnover.

Two years ago, the European Commission said it was concerned Russia was breaking anti-trust rules in the region by working to partition Central and Eastern European gas markets.

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