For more details, also on the next steps in the investigation, please see the press release.
How the commitments would benefit the Hungarian gas market
The Commission's main concern is that Gazprom isolated the Hungarian 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 contracts with Hungarian customers.
The functioning of the Hungarian gas market has improved in recent years. First, following the opening of the antitrust investigation, the explicit export bans and destination clauses have been removed from Gazprom's gas contracts with Hungarian customers. Second, the Hungarian gas market is now much better connected with Western Europe. The development of gas interconnectors has allowed, as of 2012, for reverse gas flows from Western Europe to Hungary. This means that Gazprom's Hungarian 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 into line with competitive Western European prices. This is the reason why the Commission did not raise concerns of excessive prices in Hungary.
Despite those major developments, Gazprom is still a dominant player on the Hungarian upstream wholesale gas market. There continue to be barriers to the free flow of gas across Hungarian 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 Hungarian 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 Hungarian borders at competitive prices.
- Enables free flow of gas across Hungarian 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. Hungarian 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 Hungarian customers to re-sell gas to Bulgaria – While the Hungarian gas market is connected with some neighbouring gas markets (e.g. Austria, Germany) there is still no gas connecting infrastructure with Bulgaria. Since customers who want to re-sell gas across borders rely on access to gas infrastructure in order to ship the gas, their ability to re-sell gas is limited at the moment. Gazprom will offer swap-like operations, which would enable its customers to bring gas originally contracted at selected delivery points for delivery to Hungary to be instead brought to Bulgaria. The commitment therefore offers Hungarian wholesalers the possibility to seek new customers on the Bulgarian gas market before the gas connecting infrastructure becomes accessible.