Ukraine's Naftogaz Calls for EU Anti-Monopoly Action Against Gazprom

KYIV (Reuters) — Ukraine's Naftogaz said on Wednesday it has asked the EU competition watchdog to stop what it says is abuse by Russia's Gazprom of its dominant position in the European gas market.

Europe's gas prices hit an all-time high this week after a pipeline bringing Russian gas to Germany switched to flow east. Moscow said this had no political implications, but has said that its domestic market is a higher priority.

Gazprom, which accounts for around a third of total gas supplies to Europe, did not respond to a request for comment on Ukrainian energy company's move.

A spokesperson for the European Commission said it had received the complaint which would be assessed based on its standard procedures.

Naftogaz head Yuriy Vitrenko said Gazprom had stopped selling gas through its electronic platform, refused to fill gas storage facilities in the European Union or to use capacity in Ukraine's pipeline system to supply larger volumes, despite Kyiv's offer of a 50% tariff discount.

Vitrenko said in a statement that Gazprom was also blocking exports of gas produced by private companies in Russia and the transit of gas from Central Asia to Europe.

Kyiv used to buy Turkmen gas before the Russian parliament approved a law in 2006 which allowed Gazprom to become an exclusive exporter of gas from the Russian pipeline network.

"Gazprom's actions are anti-competitive and have significant negative consequences for all European consumers," Vitrenko said.

Gazprom began to refill its gas storage in Europe last month only after its Russian storage had been filled.

Gazprom has not held sales on its electronic platform since October. It has not made clear why, but has said it was meeting all its obligations on gas supplies.

Meanwhile, several key Gazprom clients in Europe have told Reuters they had not requested Gazprom to boost its exports.

Vitrenko said that Naftogaz, one of Europe's largest gas buyers, had sent its complaint to the European Commission's Directorate General for Competition.

Naftogaz had asked the Commission to oblige Gazprom to put up for sale through an electronic platform significant volumes of gas for delivery on the Ukraine-Russian border, or on the border between Ukraine and EU countries.

It has also demanded that Gazprom opens its transmission system to private Russian gas producers and those from Central Asian countries.

EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager said on Tuesday that the bloc had asked questions of major energy companies including Gazprom "to understand if there is foul play in the energy market" but it was too early to reach any conclusions.

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