European gas supply market: the European Commission charges Gazprom for alleged abuse of dominant position

The European Commission has sent today, 22 April 2015, a Statement of Objections to Gazprom for alleged abuse of dominant position on the Central and Eastern European gas supply market, contrary to EU antitrust rules. Investigations started in September 2012 and resulted in today's decision. Gazprom has now 12 weeks to answer the Statement of Objections.
The Commission is suspecting that:
"Gazprom is breaking EU antitrust rules by pursuing an overall strategy to partition Central and Eastern European gas markets, for example by reducing its customers’ ability to resell the gas cross-border. This may have enabled Gazprom to charge unfair prices in certain Member States. Gazprom may also have abused its dominant market position by making the supply of gas dependent on obtaining unrelated commitments from wholesalers concerning gas transport infrastructure."
Further comments will be published on this blog in the coming days.
By then, see the press release and the factsheet from the European Commission.
Photo credit: Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, Commissioner in charge of Competition @ European Union, 2015


Remarks on the European Council Conclusions on Energy Union of 19 March 2015

On 19 March 2015, the European Council reached conclusions on the strategy for the Energy Union, newly presented by the European Commission on 25 February 2015 (see previous post and comments). The text is a broad endorsement of the general policy lines contained in the strategy, with a slightly re-arranged priority order.


European Council Conclusions on the Energy Union now available (19.03.2015)

Below follows the part of the Conclusions dedicated to Energy Union as adopted by the heads of State and Government at the European Council on 19 March 2014:


Reduced taxation on fossil fuels: easy and powerful tool to restore balance between consumers. Recent EU decision on differentiated rates in the UK

In a recent decision adopted by the Council on 2 March 2015, the United Kingdom has been authorised to apply reduced levels of taxation on gas oil and unleaded petrol which are supplied as motor fuel to road vehicles.
The measure, proposed by the UK, examined by the European Commission and backed by the Council, aims to restore the balance for local fuels consumers faced with higher prices than the rest of the UK consumers. As explained in the decision, "the price difference is due to additional per unit costs induced by the geographic location of those areas, their low population numbers and the delivery of relatively low volumes of fuel."
This decision is taken in accordance with the provisions of Article 19 of Directive 2003/96/EC on the taxation of energy products and electricity. Under that provision, certain criteria for the granting of exemption are set, such as conformity with the functioning of the internal market, the need to ensure fair competition and the compatibility with Union's health, environment, energy and transport policies. It must also be compatible with the rules on state aids and do not exceed a six-year duration. The Commission and the Council came to the conclusion that such conditions are met in the present case.
The former European Commission proposed in a revision of the energy taxation Directive and put forward a proposal in April 2011, aimed to update the taxation criteria for energy Products (e.g., integration CO2 emissions and energy content). In the recent Energy Union package adopted by the New European Commission, the review of the Directive is not anymore on the agenda. Consequently, the Directive continues to be the central piece of legislation in terms of taxation of energy Products in the EU.
Reference: Council implementing decision (EU) 2015/356 of 2 March 2015, OJEU of 5.3.2015, L 61, p. 24.


Kommentar: "Fra ambisjon til pragmatisme: EU-kommisjonens strategi for energiunionen" (i Energi og Klima Nettmagasinet)

"Etter flere måneder med mye spekulasjoner, avveininger og forhandlinger la endelig EU-kommisjonen frem sin rammestrategi om energiunion 25. februar 2015. Mange forventet et visjonært verk. Det endte med en pragmatisk tiltakspakke som nå utgjør Kommisjonens arbeidsprogram for de fem neste årene. Selv om EØS/EFTA-landene ikke er omfattet av EUs felles energi- og klimapolitikk som sådan, er realiteten at den nye strategien er av stor betydning for Norge."

Les hele min kommentarEnergi og Klima Nettmagasinet HER.


Conference on Comparative Offshore Oil & Gas Law: UK-Norway-USA, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, USA, 12-13 March 2015

The Louisiana State University (LSU) Journal of Energy Law & Resources is organising a conference on comparative offshore oil and gas law regimes between the United Kingdom, Norway and the United States. The conference will take place in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA, on 12-13 March 2015. It is structured around four topics: licensing systems, third party access to offshore infrastructure, license (lease) terms, and environmental, health and safety.
I am glad to be associated to this project and will be presenting the Norwegian licensing regime. See you in Baton Rouge?
More information on the event on the LSU website: http://www1.law.lsu.edu/cle/seminars/jelr/


Potential CO2 storage sites on the Norwegian continental shelf: the Petroleum Directorate publishes two interactive maps

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) has released two interative maps based on the data collected from its atlases for potential CO2 storage sites (CO2 Atlases):
  • one is an interative CO2 Atlas, so-called "CO2 FactMap", check here;
  • the other one present general data and called "CO2 StoryMap", check here.


Expert Commission assesses conditions for increased productivity in Norway (report)

The specially appointed Commission on Productivity (Produktivitetskommisjonen in Norwegian) has submitted its first report to the Norwegian Finance Minister on 10 February 2015.
The first report looks at the basis for Growth and Welfare (Produktivitet – grunnlag for vekst og velferd , NOU 2015:1) and covers all sectors including petroleum and energy. The full document is available here (in Norwegian).
Website of the Productivity Commission: http://produktivitetskommisjonen.no/
A thorough comment of the Commission's report will be published on this blog in the coming days.