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VIENNA, September 26 (Itar-Tass) — An agreement in principle on a meeting with representatives of the European Commission to discuss the situation with Gazprom has been reached, but the date of the meeting has not been set yet, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said in an interview with Itar-Tass here on Wednesday.
“We are in permanent dialogue and actively cooperate with the European Commission,” he said. “The other day I had a telephone conversation with European Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger. We agreed on the list of issues that we should discuss, not only concerning Gazprom, and agreed to meet. We planned to hold such a meeting within the next two weeks, but the exact date has not been determined yet. I have invited the commissioner to Moscow, and we expect an answer.”
Earlier this month, the European Commission opened formal proceedings to investigate whether Gazprom, the Russian producer and supplier of natural gas, might be hindering competition in Central and Eastern European gas markets, in breach of EU antitrust rules. An opening of proceedings does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation; it only means that the Commission will treat the case as a matter of priority. The Commission 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.
Referring to the issue of the possible setting of a kind of “an optimal price corridor” for Russian gas that exists behind the scenes, for example, in the oil trade in the world market, Alexander Novak pointed out that the global gas market has not yet formed, and there is not indicative gas price. “At present, there are three major gas markets - the American, European and Asian,” he added. “The prices are different everywhere and are determined on a contract basis between business entities. One of the main problems hindering the alignment of prices – is the delivery of gas, the cost of which is not equivalent for different markets. So it is so far premature to talk about unified and ‘fair’ world gas prices.