For more details, also on the next steps in the investigation, please see the press release.
How the commitments would benefit the Slovak gas market
The Commission's main concern is that Gazprom isolated the Slovak gas market by preventing the free flow of gas across borders. This isolation resulted mainly from Gazprom's export prohibition contained in its gas supply and transport contracts with Slovak customers.
The functioning of the Slovak gas market has improved in recent years. First, there are no longer territorial restrictions in the Slovak gas contracts. Second, the Slovak gas market has become better connected with Western Europe as of 2012. The development of gas interconnectors has allowed for reverse gas flows from Western Europe to Slovakia. This means that Gazprom's Slovak customers could get access to Western European liquid and competitive gas hubs. The emergence of this alternative source of supply forced Gazprom to adjust its prices by introducing references to hub prices, bringing them back into line with competitive Western European prices. This is the reason why the Commission did not raise concerns of excessive prices in Slovakia.
Despite those major developments, Gazprom is still a dominant player on the Slovak upstream wholesale gas market. There continue to be barriers to the free flow of gas across Slovak borders due to Gazprom's territorial restrictions contained in its gas supply contract with other Central and Eastern European customers, and Gazprom could still undermine the possibility for Slovak customers to re-sell gas to other countries.
In this context, Gazprom's commitments provide a clear framework to enable the free flow of gas across Slovak borders at competitive prices.
- Enables free flow of gas across Slovak borders – Gazprom will remove, once and for all, any market segmentation clauses in its gas supply contracts with Central and Eastern European customers. This will enable the free flow of gas within Central and Eastern Europe. Slovak customers will be able to both export and import gas to/from other EU gas markets without any restrictions resulting from Gazprom's supply contracts.
- Creates opportunities for Slovak customers to re-sell gas to the Baltic States or Bulgaria – While the Slovak gas market is connected with some neighbouring gas markets (e.g. Austria, Germany), there is still no gas connecting infrastructure with the Baltic States or Bulgaria. Since customers who want to re-sell gas across borders rely on access to gas infrastructure in order to ship the gas, there ability to re-sell gas is currently limited. Gazprom's commitment will enable Slovak customers to request Gazprom to implement a swap-like operation, which would enable its customers to bring gas originally contracted at selected delivery points to Slovakia to be instead brought to the Baltic States or Bulgaria. The commitment therefore offers wholesalers the possibility to seek new customers in those isolated gas markets before the gas connecting infrastructure becomes accessible.