Gazprom vows to let clients renegotiate natural gas prices


Gazprom has vowed to let its clients renegotiate natural gas prices once they decide that these do not correspond to the average rates in Western Europe, European Commission Spokesman Ricardo Cardoso said in an interview for the Bulgarian National Radio.

It was announced earlier this week that the Russian company had conceded to change its conduct on the market of Eastern Europe so as to avoid a multimillion euro fine by the EU for abuse of monopoly. The European Commission tends to accept an out-of-court settlement with the Russian giant provided the latter amends certain terms of its contracts with Bulgaria and seven other EU member states. Talking to BNR Ricardo Cardoso pointed out that all existing territorial restrictions in Gazprom contracts would be removed. These have thus far prevented Gazprom clients from reselling its gas to third countries. By lifting restrictions gas will be traded freely across the region. Now that the Russian company has made a commitment to fix the problem, the Bulgarian gas-transiting operator Bulgartransgaz among others, will be able to obtain full control over inter-system gas connections, the EU spokesman said.

Ricardo Cardoso also pointed to a second aspect of Gazprom commitments: the option of renegotiation of natural gas prices in markets where Gazprom dominates and imposes disproportionately high rates. The EC official recalled that the option of renegotiating gas prices had not been included in the agreements of some countries. Now under the new proposals renegotiation can be demanded by clients once every two years.

Gazprom has also vowed it will give up any future claims to Bulgaria over the failed South Stream project. EC Spokesman Ricardo Cardoso told BNR that at this stage the EC was not voicing a final stance on South Stream. It has only voiced concerns over possible pressure and abuse of monopoly and has received a pledge from Gazprom that it will not claim any financial compensations. Fresh Gazprom vows require amendments to bilateral trade contracts with Bulgaria. This would require the consent of the Bulgarian government.

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