您现在的位置: 纽约时报中英文网 >> 纽约时报中英文版 >> 商业 >> 正文


更新时间:2015-4-22 9:25:04 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Europe Is Expected to Charge Gazprom in Antitrust Case

BRUSSELS — Margrethe Vestager, Europe's antitrust chief, is expected Wednesday to charge the Russian gas exporter Gazprom with abusing its dominance in natural gas markets to raise prices and quash competition.

布鲁塞尔——欧洲反垄断事务负责人玛格丽特·韦斯塔格尔(Margrethe Vestager)预计会于周三指控俄罗斯天然气出口商俄罗斯天然气工业股份公司(Gazprom,简称俄气)滥用在天然气市场的主导地位,以达到提价和打压竞争的目的。

The move should please countries like Lithuania and the United States that have been pushing authorities in Brussels to crack down on Gazprom, a state-controlled company that the Kremlin depends on for significant export earnings. Overall, the European Union depends on Russia for one-third of its natural gas.


The move was confirmed by two people with knowledge of the case, who spoke on condition of anonymity because such decisions are confidential. Gazprom in Moscow said it “cannot comment before any documents are received.” A spokesman for Vestager declined to comment.


Europe is Gazprom's most important and lucrative market by far, despite a huge 30-year deal signed last year with China to ramp up Russian gas sales there. The price China will pay Gazprom has never been announced but is believed to be far below the European rate.


Gazprom's business model involves opaque contracts that often restrict onward sales to third countries. Any concerted push by the EU to force the state-controlled energy giant to change that model will be seen by Moscow as opening a new front in what it already views — after the imposition last year of economic sanctions over the Ukraine crisis — as the West's “economic war” against Russia.


Russia, its economy battered by the twin blows of sanctions and low global oil prices, had hoped for an easing of relations with Europe when sanctions come up for review this summer, but it now confronts a further struggle to preserve the position of its biggest single company.


A European investigation of Gazprom has been underway for four years, with a series of negotiations between Brussels and Gazprom failing to produce a settlement. But the European Commission was wary of bringing formal charges.

欧盟对俄气的调查已进行了四年,布鲁塞尔与俄气之间的一系列谈判均未能实现和解。但欧盟委员会(European Commission)对提出正式指控颇为谨慎。

One European concern was that an antitrust action could prompt Moscow to harden its line on Ukraine, as the West sought to resolve the fighting between Russian-backed separatists and the government in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.


Gazprom's willingness to wield its power was illustrated by its stopping the provision of fuel to Ukraine in midwinter “gas wars” in 2006 and 2009, which led to shortages in Europe.


The decision would be Vestager's second big move in a week. Last Wednesday she filed formal charges accusing Google of abusing its dominance in the market for online search in Europe.


The formal charges against Gazprom would make it more likely that the Russian company would eventually be told to pay a fine — one that could theoretically run higher than 10 billion euros ($10.7 billion), although EU antitrust penalties have never gone that high.


But the larger worry for Gazprom would be the prospect of being forced to allow more competition in markets it has long controlled. The company, for example, could eventually be forced to drop conditions in its contracts with European utilities that restrict those utilities' ability to share the gas with other countries.


The European antitrust investigation began with surprise raids in 2011 by European officials on Gazprom offices and those of several of its customers in Germany and across Central and Eastern Europe, as investigators sought billing records.


A year later, in September 2012, Joaquín Almunia, Vestager's predecessor, opened a formal antitrust case asking whether Gazprom was blocking gas flows in some parts of Europe. Other questions were whether the Russian company was thwarting its European customers' efforts to diversify sources of supply, and whether it was imposing unfairly high charges by linking gas prices to those of oil, rather than basing prices on global natural gas market rates.

一年后的2012年9月,维斯塔格尔的前任华金·阿尔穆尼亚(Joaquín Almunia)正式就俄气是否在欧洲部分地区阻止天然气流通展开反垄断调查。其他的问题包括这家俄罗斯公司是否在阻挠其欧洲客户增加供应来源的努力,以及它是否在通过将天然气的价格同石油价格挂钩,而不是根据全球天然气市场价格定价的方式,收取不公平的高价。

Since then, Russia has annexed Crimea and destabilized Ukraine after the government in Kiev began steering the country toward tighter relations with the West and the European Union. That made penalizing Gazprom an even more diplomatically fragile issue. Although there are no Western sanctions on Gazprom's natural gas exports to Europe, both the EU and the U.S. have made it possible to restrict some energy exploration technologies to Russia and to limit some financing to Russian finance entities like Gazprombank.


Lithuania is among six EU member states that have long been dependent on Russia for all their gas — although Lithuania has established a gas-import terminal to break that monopoly. The others are Finland, Latvia, Estonia, Slovakia and Bulgaria, according to the European Commission.


As part of a series of settlements with Gazprom from 2003-05, the commission ensured that companies, including Eni of Italy, OMV of Austria and Ruhrgas of Germany, would no longer be prevented from reselling gas to buyers in other countries.