THE SLOVAK Antitrust Office (PMÚ) has imposed a fine of Sk98.9 million (€3.282 million) on eustream, a member of the gas company SPP group, which transmits gas from Russia to Western Europe, for abuse of its dominant market position.
“Eustream abused its dominant position by forcing its trade partner to accept an unreasonable business condition,” said PMÚ spokesperson Alexandra Bernáthová. “Eustream, as a member of the SPP economic group, used its position of market strength to force the fulfilment of a condition that was unrelated to the subject of the concluded contracts and which was unnecessary for achieving their objective."
According to the authority, eustream forced the company GasTrading to sell it the connection installations to the natural gas transmitter’s network.
Eustream believes it proceeded in accordance with the law and regulations in connecting GasTrading’s distribution network.
"We will definitely consider further legal steps following a detailed analysis of the decision," Andreas Rau, a eustream board member, said.
Eustream contends that owning the facilities will ensure the network is operated safely and reliably. Owning them is also necessary, it said, to ensure that none of the operators of a distribution network’s connection to the transmission network owns a connection installation.
"However, the PMÚ did not consider the stated justification legal or objectively relevant," Bernáthová said. “The duty to ensure safe and reliable operation of the transmission network can be achieved without a change in ownership of the connection installations. However, eustream rejected this alternative.”
The Antitrust Office’s decision came into force on October 6 and it can only be appealed in court.
Eustream is a major player in the gas transmission business in Europe.
Its transmission network has an annual capacity of more than 90 billion cubic meters of natural gas and covers over 2,270 km.
Last year the company transported 73.8 billion cubic metres of natural gas, which represents 20 percent of annual consumption in the EU, making it the largest transmission company within the EU, the company writes on its website.
20. Oct 2008 at 0:00 | Compiled by the Spectator staff from press reports