Gazprom Made No Offer to Settle EU Antitrust Probe, Almunia Says

The European Union is continuing to draft a formal complaint against OAO Gazprom after the bloc’s competition commissioner said he hasn’t received a settlement offer to resolve the antitrust probe.

“It would be premature to anticipate when the next steps might be taken, but we have now moved to the phase of preparing a statement of objections,” Joaquin Almunia, the EU’s antitrust chief, said in a speech in Vilnius.

For the EU to hold back from sending a complaint, a company under investigation needs to make an offer addressing any competition concerns, Almunia told reporters before the speech. “So far, I haven’t received any proposals from Gazprom.”

Russia’s state-owned natural gas export monopoly is suspected of abusing its dominant market power to impose unfair prices in central and eastern Europe by linking what it charges for long-term natural gas contracts to oil prices and of preventing gas from being traded between countries, the EU said when it started the probe last September.

“We’d like the European Commission to stop PRing itself and start working with the documents, and we would respond to real claims rather than statements through the media,” Sergei Kupriyanov, a spokesman for Moscow-based Gazprom, said today by phone.

Almunia said last month that he plans to present a statement of objections without specifying any timeline.

The commission plans to complete its Gazprom probe in the spring of 2014, Dalia Grybauskaite, Lithuania’s president, said in an e-mailed statement after a meeting with Almunia today.

“We are dealing with the complaint by Lithuania, which was filed after our preliminary probe had started, but the geographic scope of our investigation is wider, encompassing the other Baltic states, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria,” Almunia said today.

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