Group of EU lawmakers seek to investigate Gazprom’s role in soaring gas prices

A specialist welds a pipe while completing construction of the Nord Stream 2 undersea pipeline aboard the laybarge Fortuna in German Baltic Sea waters, September 6, 2021. Nord Stream 2 / Axel Schmidt / Handout via REUTERS

BRUSSELS, Sept. 17 (Reuters) – A group of European Parliament lawmakers have called on the European Commission to investigate Gazprom’s role in soaring gas prices in Europe, claiming the company’s behavior made them suspect market manipulation.

Gas prices in Europe have jumped in recent months, helping to push electricity costs in Europe to multi-year highs, with wholesale electricity prices not expected to drop significantly this year. Read more

In a letter to the EU Executive Board dated September 16, around 40 of the 700 legislators in parliament said they suspected Russian company Gazprom of acting to drive up gas prices.

“We call on the European Commission to urgently open an investigation into possible deliberate market manipulation by Gazprom and a potential violation of EU competition rules,” the letter said.

Gazprom said it had no immediate comment on the letter.

The European Commission said it had received the letter and would respond to it in due course.

Lawmakers have said they are wary of “the company’s efforts to pressure” Europe to agree to a swift launch of its Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which still has to overcome regulatory hurdles that could take months. .

Gazprom announced last week that it had completed construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany, doubling its capacity to export gas via the Baltic Sea.

EU lawmakers cited incidents including recent shutdowns of part of Gazprom’s production and said the company had refused to reserve gas transmission capacity through existing pipelines.

“All of these factors suggest that the record spike in natural gas prices in Europe in recent weeks could be the direct result of the deliberate manipulation of the market by Gazprom,” the letter said.

Nord Stream 2 has faced sanctions from the United States and criticism from other countries over concerns that the EU may rely more on energy imports from Russia.

Reporting by Kate Abnett; additional reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin, Thomas Balmes; Editing by Louise Heavens

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