September 11, 2008

Gazprom Faces Fine for Restricting Access to Gas Pipeline

Russian gas monopoly Gazprom will reportedly be fined for restricting access to its pipeline network for gas producer Transnafta, according to the Financial Times, which quoted the Russian Federal Anti-Monopoly Service.

The regulator has stated that it will impose the fine on Gazprom due to breach of antitrust regulations for refusing access to its pipeline. Transnafta is an independent producer in the Tatarstan region.

The news source quoted a spokesperson at the anti-monopoly regulator as saying that the fine could be as high as 15% of Gazprom's annual revenue in the corresponding market. Analysts are of the opinion that this move may signal the weakening influence of Gazprom over the country's energy sector.

Industry sources are of the opinion that this could be a result of a power shift in Moscow's power center. This antitrust fine follows the appointment of Igor Sechin to the post of Russia's deputy prime minister and taking charge of the country's energy sector. Mr Sechin was previously deputy chief of staff and is the chairman of Russian oil major Rosneft.

The news source quoted an industry insider as saying that Mr Sechin is looking into the country's energy sector with a view to decide its future course, all with the backing of Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin.