More than 40 members of the European Parliament from all political groups are urging the European Commission to launch an investigation into Russian gas giant Gazprom over alleged market manipulation that could have contributed to the record-high natural gas prices in Europe.
“We call on the European Commission to urgently open an investigation into possible deliberate market manipulation by Gazprom and potential violation of EU competition rules,” 42 EU lawmakers wrote in a letter to the relevant European Commissioners seen by Bloomberg.
Europe is grappling with soaring natural gas and electricity prices ahead of the winter heating season due to tight gas supplies, very low gas inventories across the continent, and low wind power generation amid still weather.
During the summer, even with the strong rebound in European natural gas demand and surging prices, Gazprom did not book additional entry capacity to Europe via Ukraine.
Analysts say that this could have been an opportunistic move from the Russian giant to drive up Europe’s gas prices further and take advantage of the very high prices. Other analysts think that Gazprom’s effective reduction in supplies would force Europe to recognize that gas customers on the continent need the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany bypassing Ukraine.
Last week, Gazprom said it had completed the construction of Nord Stream 2, although gas flows on the Russia-led pipeline cannot begin until Germany grants an operating license to the project.
Germany’s federal networks regulator BNA said earlier this week that it would decide no later than January 8, 2022, whether it will certify Nord Stream 2 and issue an operating license for the pipeline.
The commissioning of Nord Stream 2 “as soon as possible will substantially balance natural gas price parameters in Europe, including on the spot market,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.
On Friday, Alexey Miller, chairman of the board of Gazprom, said that low gas storage levels across Europe going into the winter season have the potential to push up Europe’s natural gas prices to new records in the coming weeks.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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