EU officials raid Gazprom’s German offices amid price investigation

Officials are investigating Russian gas giant’s role in fuelling gas price spike

The corporate headquarters of Gazprom Germania, the German unit of Russian natural gas company Gazprom. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

European Union officials raided the offices of Gazprom 's German units as part of a probe into the Russian gas giant's role in pushing prices in the continent to records, sources said.

Officials visited offices of companies including Gazprom Germania and Wingas, which supplies about 20 per cent of the German market, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. The raid comes as Europe steps up its probe into whether Gazprom's behavior caused a spike in gas prices and worsened the region's energy crunch, the people said.

Europe has been grappling with an energy crisis since last year, as Gazprom capped additional supplies at a time inventories were already at their lowest level in more than a decade. The head of the International Energy Agency earlier this year blamed Russia for the energy crunch that's caused European factories producing everything fro fertilisers to metals to shut down.

The European Commission has been closely monitoring Gazprom's actions in gas markets. Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson told the European Parliament earlier this month that the bloc's executive arm was in the fact-finding phase of its investigation into possible anti-competitive behavior. The probe started before the war in Ukraine.


‘Rare behaviour’

Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s antitrust chief said in January that Gazprom was exhibiting “rare behaviour” and that she was “eagerly awaiting” the state-owned firm’s answers to a round of EU questions. EU lawmakers and politicians urged her to open a probe into whether Gazprom was abusing its power by potentially squeezing supplies to put pressure on policy makers to approve the controversial Nord Stream 2 link.

Russia has repeatedly said that it can't be blamed for surging European gas prices. Gazprom said it's meeting requests from buyers in full, a statement European utilities have also confirmed. EU policies, including a halt in the permitting process for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, should be blamed, Russia's deputy prime minister Alexander Novak said last week, echoing similar comments made by President Vladimir Putin last year.

The commission declined to comment. A spokesman for Gazprom Germania said the company cannot comment on any probes or visits conducted by regulators and authorities, while Wingas declined to comment. – Bloomberg