EU allows Gazprom to take over Dutch, German gas companies
BRUSSELS - Agence France-Presse
Russian gas giant Gazprom's logo is attached on the roof of the recently built Adler thermal power plant in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi on November 30, 2013. AFP photoThe European Commission cleared Russian gas giant Gazprom on Wednesday to take joint or sole control of four Dutch and German gas companies.
Gazprom is taking joint control of WINZ and Wintershall Services of the Netherlands, which are involved in oil and gas exploration and production in the North Sea.
It will take over completely Wingas and WIEH which supply gas mainly in Germany.
The Commission said it took the decisions after concluding the transactions "would not raise competition concerns," but said this had no impact on its ongoing anti-trust investigation against Gazprom.
Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in October that the EU was preparing against Gazprom a statement of objections, the equivalent to be charged as part of an anti-trust probe.
Brussels launched in September 2012 its probe into Gazprom's use of long-term contracts tied to the price of oil, a policy that often leaves its supplies far more expensive than those available on the open market.
The Commission suspects that conditions on such contracts with EU members including Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia may infringe EU competition rules.