OAO Gazprom officials argued at an oral hearing Tuesday that European Union antitrust charges against the Russian energy giant are “groundless and based on significant methodological errors,” Gazprom said.
The move, requested by the Russian company, indicates it is using every legal avenue to defend itself against the EU’s charges, which were filed in April after a multiyear investigation. Companies are entitled to request an oral hearing to better make their case to regulators but don’t always request one.
A spokeswoman for the European Commission confirmed the hearing took place Tuesday “in line with standard antitrust procedures.” The hearing was closed to the public, but Gazprom provided its statements in an email to The Wall Street Journal.
The Gazprom delegation, led by its Deputy Chairman Alexander Medvedev, sought to convince the European Commission that it was mistaken in alleging the Russian company had hindered competition and charged unfair prices for gas in Eastern Europe. In particular, Gazprom said it disagreed with the EU’s conclusions over its “excessive pricing” of gas and presented data to show why the allegations were “economically and legally unfounded.”
It also argued the EU had failed to take properly into account that its commercial agreements were determined by intergovernmental agreements with Russia.
Gazprom said it was committed to an “open dialogue” with the EU and wanted to find a “mutually acceptable solution.”
The hearing follows talks last week between EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager and officials from Gazprom and Russia’s government. Ms. Vestager has said her agency is pushing ahead with the charges at the same time as it considers a settlement offer from Gazprom.