EU Antitrust Regulators Raided Gazprom offices in Germany

EU antitrust regulators raided on Wednesday German offices of the Russian gas company Gazprom – Gazprom Germania GmbH and Wingas GmbH- as the EU watchdog ramps up its investigation into the company’s gas supplies to Europe.

Both Gazprom Export and the European Commission declined to comment.

A person familiar with the regulator’s thinking told Reuters last month that the European Union’s antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager is likely to intensify information gathering on Gazprom’s European businesses.

After accusations emerged that the Russian gas giant was withholding extra production that could be released to lower rising prices Vestager asked back in January Gazprom and other gas companies about the tight supplies.

Vestager, who is also the European Commission’s executive vice president, accused Gazprom of not ramping up supply to meet demand, pointing out to data showing that Russian gas exports to the EU have aggressively fallen since the new year, particularly through Ukraine.

Any company that will be found breaching EU antitrust rules could face fines of up to 10% of their global turnover.

Not only Gazprom but also the Kremlin has repeatedly denied withholding gas supplies, stressing that they’ve met all firm and long-term obligations.

This is not the first time that EU antitrust regulators have raided Gazprom offices.

They initiated a probe in 2011 on Gazprom’s alleged abuse of its dominance in the gas markets in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia.

The probe ended in 2018 after the Russian gas export monopolist agreed to allow rivals a foothold in eastern Europe and vowed reforms aimed at bringing down gas prices.

The company was Gazprom was put into the spotlight again last year when the global demand was driven by the post-COVID economic recovery, significantly increasing prices and power bills and leading to calls that gas companies offer extra volumes.

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