Bulgaria faces €330mn fine from EU in gas monopoly case

Bulgaria faces €330mn fine from EU in gas monopoly case
By Denitsa Koseva in Sofia November 28, 2017

Bulgaria is facing a fine of up to €330mn from the European Union in a case concernging suspected abuse of dominant position in the gas market by the wholly state-owned Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) and its subsidiaries Bulgargaz and Bulgartransgaz. 

The investigation into BEH’s potential abuse of its dominance in Bulgaria’s gas markets was opened in 2012 and concerns violations that allegedly occurred between 2007 and 2014. The European Commission (EC) has concerns that BEH and its subsidiaries have refused to give competitors access to the gas transmission network and the gas storage facility, as well as reserved capacity they do not need on the gas import pipeline. Hence, the EC's provisional finding is that there may have been an abuse of dominant position.

However, the country has decided not to accept the EC's position on the case, including assuming the fine. Bulgarian MPs voted unanimously not to recognise the alleged infringements and not to assume responsibility for them at a closed session on November 24.

This includes the "substantial fine", according to Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova, daily Dnevnik reported.

“This fine may amount to up to 10% of BEH’s turnover, the maximum amount of the fine could be €330mn,” she was quoted as saying by Dnevnik.

On the other hand, if Bulgaria admits the violation, the sanction could be reduced by around 30%.

MPs have instructed Petkova to take all necessary actions to protect Bulgaria’s interests, including actions for appealing against the EC’s decisions.

The case was launched following a complaint by private gas company Overgas.