The European Commission fined the state-owned Bulgarian Energy Holding, the parent company of Bulgargaz and Bulgartransgaz, more than €77 million for blocking competitors’ access to key gas infrastructure in Bulgaria, the commission announced in a press release. The commission found that BEH and its subsidiaries, which control Bulgaria’s gas infrastructure and gas supplies to customers, abused their dominant positions by unduly restricting access to the infrastructure it owned and operated and by hoarding capacity on the only import pipeline bringing gas through Romania to Bulgaria so that potential competitors could not use it. This prevented potential competitors from entering the wholesale gas supply markets in Bulgaria and ensured a near monopoly for Bulgargaz, the commission found.
Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager issued a statement on the ruling:
“Consumers in all Member States should enjoy the benefits of an integrated and competitive single European energy market. For years, Bulgarian natural gas consumers have been denied a choice of suppliers because the BEH group refused to give access to its gas infrastructure to other wholesale gas suppliers. With today’s decision, we will promote the development of an open and competitive energy market to the benefit of consumers in Bulgaria, in line with Energy Union objectives,” Vestager said.