Europe gas buyers raided in EU competition inquiry

28 September 2011 12:11  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Two European subsidiaries of Russia’s Gazprom, Germany’s E.ON Ruhrgas and Austria’s OMV are cooperating with European Commission antitrust officials following spot raids on offices of their gas businesses, the companies said on Wednesday.

The four companies confirmed they were among gas distribution, transportation and storage firms in 10 countries that were raided by inspectors of the Commission’s Directorate General for Competition on Tuesday in an investigation into alleged anti-competitive practices.

None of the companies would discuss any possible allegations in relation to the raids, but OMV CEO Gerhard Roiss said it was “companies that get gas from Russia that are being investigated”.

“We’re a very transparent company, we are cooperating with the competition authority,” he added.

The Commission did not name any of the companies raided, but as well as OMV, Gazprom Germania, Gazprom’s Czech subsidiary Vemex and E.ON Ruhrgas said they had been raided.

“The Commission is investigating potential anti-competitive practices in the supply of natural gas in Central and Eastern European member states,” the Commission said in a press release.

“The investigation focuses on the upstream supply level, where, unilaterally or through agreements, competition may be hampered or delayed. The Commission suspects exclusionary behaviour, such as market partitioning, obstacles to network access, barriers to supply diversification, as well as possible exploitative behaviour, such as excessive pricing,” it added.

The Commission said it is dedicated to ensuring “the diversification of sources of supply and the free flow of gas once it has entered the EU”.

The EU imports around three-fifths of its gas requirements, with the majority sourced from Russia.

By: Will Conroy
+44 20 8652 3214

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