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Lithuania has filed a claim against Russia’s gas utility Gazprom to a sum of about 1.5 billion U.S. dollars it had overpaid for Russian gas. Lawyers say that Gazprom is likely to win the case. But if it does not, more claims from other clients unhappy with its pricing policy are to follow.
“Lithuania’s authorities have filed a lawsuit with the Stockholm arbitration court demanding that Gazprom should recover a sum of about 1.87 billion U.S. dollars Lithuania had overpaid for illegal changes in the contract,” writes RBC daily. Lithuania’s ministry of energy claims that the Russian gas monopolist increased gas prices in the period from 2004 to 2012 in violation of the terms of privatization of Lietuvos Dujos, a gas company where Gazprom holds only a 37.1 percent stake, while Germany’s E.ON – 38.9 percent. “While voting for amendments to the gas contract, Gazprom-appointed members of Lietuvos Dujos board of directors seem to be more concerned over Gazprom’s benefits than about Lietuvos Dujos,” Lithuanian officials say. According to Lithuanian Minister of Energy Arvydas Sekmokas, it will take the court from 18 to 24 months to consider the case.
The litigation between Lithuania and Gazprom will depend on the European Commission’s anti-monopoly investigation, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta cites Alexander Shtok of 2K Audit-Business Consulting/Morison International. “It is quite probable that other European countries that claim to have suffered from Gazprom pricing policies would take similar steps. As of today, Poland has followed the lead,” he said. “I think that the involvement of European countries to the anti-monopoly probe is a handy occasion to promote own commercial interests. It is not ruled out that if Gazprom loses the case, the Groningen gas pricing formula of long-term gas export contracts will be revised to bring down the gas price or to offer discounts on gas supplies to Europe.”