Gazprom may be looking at a fine of over 10 billion euros if the European Commission proves that the Russian natural gas giant is guilty of breaching EU antitrust legislation, Belgium’s RTBF TV said on Thursday.
The European Commission said on Tuesday it has concerns that Gazprom “may be abusing its dominant market position in upstream gas supply markets in Central and Eastern European Member States, in breach of Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.”
“In accordance with European rules, companies found guilty of abusing their dominant position may be fined up to 10 percent of their annual turnover, which in Gazprom’s case is more than 10 billion euros,” the RTBF said in a commentary.
Gazprom shares fell 2 percent with its capitalization down $2 billion Wednesday on news of the EU probe.
Some analysts believe Gazprom will be able to reach an out-of-court settlement before multibillion fines and claims are formally filed against it, making some concessions on sales and prices.
“This is the most likely scenario,” Troika Dialog’s Oleg Maksimov said.
“The bad news is that the investigation could drag on for years. However, there is no cause for panic.”
The European Commission is investigating three suspected anti-competitive practices in Central and Eastern Europe.
“First, Gazprom may have divided gas markets by hindering the free flow of gas across Member States. Second, Gazprom may have prevented the diversification of supply of gas. Finally, Gazprom may have imposed unfair prices on its customers by linking the price of gas to oil prices,” the EC said.
Such behavior may constitute a restriction of competition and lead to higher prices and deterioration of security of supply, ultimately harming EU consumers, it said.
The EU said it will treat the Gazprom case as a matter of priority.