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EU Antitrust Watchdogs Raid Gazprom Offices

 |  March 30, 2022

Russian gas company Gazprom’s offices were raided by EU antitrust regulators, a person familiar with the matter said on Wednesday, as the EU watchdog ramped up its investigation into the company’s gas supplies to Europe amid ongoing diplomatic tensions due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager in January asked gas companies including Gazprom about tight supplies after accusations the Russian giant was withholding extra production that could be released to lower rising prices, reported Reuters. 

Vestager was likely to intensify information gathering on Gazprom’s European businesses, a person familiar with the regulator’s thinking told Reuters last month.

The European Commission declined to comment. Gazprom Export too said it had no comments on the matter.

The source of the information declined to provide details of the EU’s raids. Bloomberg was first to report the raids in Gazprom’s offices in Germany. 

Gazprom and the Kremlin have repeatedly denied withholding gas supplies, saying that all firm and long-term obligations have been met. EU authorities opened a probe into possible anti-competitive behavior by Gazprom in the gas market amid a sharp spike in global prices. Russia is the largest supplier of natural gas, vital for industrial and commercial uses including heating during the winter months, to EU member states including Poland, Germany, France, Austria, and others.

Companies found breaching EU antitrust rules face fines up to 10% of their global turnover. Gazprom dodged a fine in 2018 after agreeing to reform its pricing arrangements and pave the way for rivals in eastern Europe following an investigation. The company also found itself in the spotlight last year when the post-coronavirus economic recovery drove global demand, pushing up prices and leading to calls for gas companies to adjust their production and offer extra volumes.

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