Lithuanian authorities have hit Russian gas giant Gazprom with a fine of more than $48 million for allegedly hindering competition in the domestic utilities market.
The Baltic state’s Competition Council accused the Moscow-based player of violating a merger agreement with state-owned gas player Lietuvos Energija in 2004.
The body found that Gazprom prevented Lietuvos Energija from negotiating with other natural gas sellers, insisting the Russian “formed a barrier to the (Lithuanian) company to buying natural gas from another supplier”.
Gazprom’s action had prevented the state player from purchasing cheaper gas for electricity and heating, the council said.
Gazprom was hit with a fine of 123.1 million Lithuanian litas ($48.29 million).
Late last month Gazprom reportedly received offers to buy its stakes in Lithuanian utilities from state-owned firms in deals that would be worth more than $160 million.
EPSO-G offered to buy Gazprom’s shares in Amber Grid at €0.762 ($1.03) a piece, putting the Russian’s stake at some €50.4 million, Reuters reported.
Lietuvos Energija offered €0.653 per share in Lietuvos Dujos, valuing Gazprom’s stake in the gas utility at €70.4 million, according to the news wire.
Gapzrom owns 37.1% in each of the utilities.
Lithuania is looking to wrestle control of its gas infrastructure as it gears up to import liquefied natural gas.