EU raids German offices of Gazprom in antitrust investigation – Expat Guide to Germany

EU antitrust investigators raided the German offices of Gazprom, sources said on Thursday, suspecting the Russian gas giant had illegally raised prices in Europe.

The European Commission said its teams carried out unannounced inspections on Tuesday “at the premises of several companies in Germany active in the supply, transport and storage of natural gas”.

Two sources familiar with the matter said one of the main targets of the operation was Gazprom, accused of triggering an energy crisis in the European Union.

According to a Bloomberg report, officials visited the offices of companies such as Gazprom Germania GmbH and Wingas GmbH, which supply around 20% of the German market.

The commission, the EU’s powerful antitrust authority, is looking into allegations that Gazprom squeezed European customers by limiting supply, causing prices to spike.

Ukraine filed a complaint with the EU in December against Gazprom, accusing it of creating “an artificial gas deficit” to drive up prices.

“Gazprom’s actions are anti-competitive and have significant negative consequences for all European consumers,” said Yuriy Vitrenko, head of Ukraine’s national energy company Naftogaz, at the time.

Gazprom has a strong hand in the EU, with Russia supplying around 40% of its gas supply, mainly to Germany, Italy and a few countries in Eastern Europe.

The flow of gas to the EU has become a point of contention in the war in Ukraine, with kyiv urging the EU to cut off Russian supplies to punish the Kremlin for its invasion.

Led by Germany, the EU has refrained from imposing an embargo on Moscow, fearing disruption to the European economy, especially for factories that could close in the short term if supplies were to stop suddenly. .

Germany and Austria raised their alert levels on Wednesday under contingency plans for gas, over fears Russia could cut off supplies.

Given the tensions, the European Union has announced its intention to reduce its imports of Russian gas by two thirds this year.

The invasion of Ukraine, launched by Moscow on February 24, initially caused the spot price of gas to rise to a record high, peaking at 345 euros per megawatt hour.

It has since declined and stood at 125 euros on March 31, against less than 50 euros at the same time last year.

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James R. Rhodes