In 2011 the Commission raided Gazprom offices in Moscow, suspecting the company of impeding the flow of natural gas to Central and Eastern Europe and fixing prices. The Commission opened proceedings in September 2012, looking into Gazprom’s long-term contracts linking gas prices to a product basket of oils and incorporating pay-or-take conditions. The Commission is also investigating whether Gazprom has been hindering the free flow of gas in Europe through territorial restriction clauses in its contracts, allowing Gazprom to charge its customers different prices for the gas it sells at the same delivery point.
Two years later and the Commission's Statement of Objections is still pending. It is reported that EU-Russia tensions over fighting in eastern Ukraine have caused negotiations to stall.
However, Commission references to a Statement of Objections have increased recently, signalling that the case team has not lost its appetite and that an announcement may well be imminent. The antitrust proceedings against Gazprom have important implications for various stakeholders. Given Gazprom’s large market share in the CEE gas market, any changes to the pricing mechanism and the overall competitiveness of the market, would have a significant impact on consumers. In the shorter term, the gas market could obviously be significantly affected by any reduction in transit flows through Ukraine. Secondly, a settlement decision could require Gazprom to alter its core business model and practices. Thus, the Commission’s proceedings against Gazprom have the potential to change the shape of today’s gas and energy market both in the CEE region and throughout the European Union.