On 27 September 2011, European Commission confirmed that officials carried out dawn raids at the premises of companies active in the supply, transmission and storage of natural gas in 10 member states. Following the announcement, Gazprom issued a statement confirming that its affiliates, together with some of its customers, were among those involved in the inspections.
The Commission is investigating potential anticompetitive practices focusing on the upstream supply level in Central and Eastern Europe. The focus of investigation is on alleged exclusionary behaviour such as market partitioning, obstacles to network access, barriers to supply diversification. In addition, officials were looking for evidence to support claims of exploitative behaviour, such as excessive pricing. In its statement, Gazprom has said that it acted in full compliance with the law and had not been informed of any allegations or complaints prior to the surprise raids. It described itself as “a pioneer in the liberalisation of the European markets”.
This latest investigation comes in the context of the Commission’s ongoing review of competition in gas and electricity markets which commenced with a sector review in 2005. This review uncovered serious shortcomings in the market including excessive market concentration, an absence of transparency and high hurdles for successful entry into the market. That inquiry has subsequently been followed by a series of investigations by the Commission into the activities of individual companies.