05/09/2012 14:15:00

Gazprom's EU Troubles are Politically Driven

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VLADIVOSTOK, Russia--Russian natural gas giant OAO Gazprom's (GAZP.RS) troubles in Europe are driven by "political factors" and "didn't appear yesterday," the country's Economy Minister Andrei Belousov told Dow Jones Newswires Wednesday.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation group summit, Mr. Belousov blamed European buyers of Gazprom's gas for "trying various means, not always proper, to create better conditions for themselves, including the ones we've seen."

"From the economic point of view Russian gas is profitable for Europe, which can be proved by simple calculations," he said. "There is no alternative to Russian gas in Europe."

The European Commission said Tuesday it has launched an investigation into whether Gazprom had breached antitrust rules by hindering the free flow of gas across European Union member states, preventing countries from diversifying their gas supplies and imposing unfair prices on its customers by insisting in contracts that the price of its gas be linked to oil prices.

Mr. Belousov declined to comment on the announcement as it "should be studied first."

He said, however, that limitations to Gazprom's business in Europe, if they materialize, may cause a slowdown in Russian gas production and export growth.

Write to Alexander Kolyandr at alexander.kolyandr@dowjones.com

Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 05, 2012 09:15 ET (13:15 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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