Putin accuses Europe of 'campaign' against Gazprom
London, 3 October (Argus) — The Europe Commission's anti-monopoly investigation against Russian state-controlled Gazprom is part of a European campaign against the company, Russian president Vladimir Putin said.
But Putin has recommended examining the company's pricing structure, which some importers allege has been unfairly imposed on customers.
“We understand well that a whole campaign has been launched against Gazprom in European countries to seek out there an allegedly monopolistic position,” Putin said. Gazprom is not a monopoly, he said, adding that it supplied 27pc of Europe's gas, while Norway's state-controlled Statoil provided 29pc.
The European Commission is investigating allegations that Gazprom may have hampered Europe's internal market by imposing resale restriction in its supply contracts in eight countries — Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia. The inquiry is also looking into whether the firm imposed unfair prices on its customers with oil indexation.
Although Statoil has a similar share of the European gas market, the firm has introduced increased gas-on-gas pricing in its long-term contracts in the past few years in return for clawing back some contractual flexibility from its customers. Oil-indexed prices have been steadily rising since the middle of 2009, although some European importers have agreed a reduction in the base price in the formula in the past two years.
Putin ordered all prices to be looked at, including for European customers, but suggested that European taxes were to blame for high prices, saying that some consumers pay 60pc tax. “Why do our [European] partners want us to cut the income of our company, and they keep these tax components,” he said.
The president warned that while Gazprom would be restructured and third parties would be given access to transport networks, it would not meet the EU's third package requirements. Unbundling the export monopoly into transmission, distribution and extraction divisions would cause the transport segment to “die” because it is dependent on subsidies, Putin said. The separation of transport divisions and the third energy package are “very dangerous things”, which Russia has discussed with Europe many times.
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