"Under Article 9 of the EU's antitrust Regulation 1/2003, if a company breaks such commitments, the Commission can impose a fine of up to 10% of the company's worldwide turnover, without having to prove an infringement of the EU antitrust rules.
In a bid to avoid this fine, Gazprom has agreed a draft compromise with Brussels to end a probe into its alleged abuse of market power, bringing the Russian gas giant closer to resolving a long-running European antitrust case without incurring a fine.
As a first step, the Russian gas giant has agreed to lift the territorial restrictions on re-selling gas Russian gas that are now in place for Bulgaria, The Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia.
In addition, it will remove all provisions that reduce the incentives of customers to re-sell gas, such as clauses that give Gazprom a share of the profit. Gazprom's commitment extends also to future contracts.
From now on, Gazprom will deliver gas to Bulgaria or the Baltic States at a fixed transparent fee. Relevant customers that have bought gas originally to be delivered to Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, can re-sell their gas. They can have it delivered to Bulgaria or the Baltic States instead. This allows these customers to seek new business opportunities even before connecting gas infrastructure becomes available, to the benefit of Bulgaria and the Baltic States.
The Russian company has also vowed to remove obstacles to cross-border gas flows to Bulgaria. These changes would enable better gas interconnections between Bulgaria and its EU neighbours, in particular with Greece.
These measures are important improvements to ensure the free flow of gas in Central and Eastern Europe.
In addition, the Central and East European countries will now be allowed to negotiate the price of their annual supplies of natural gas with Gazprom.
As regards South Stream, Gazprom has committed not to seek damages from its Bulgarian partners following the termination of the South Stream project. This means that Gazprom's conditioning of gas supplies won't have any effect in practice.
Finally, Gazprom has promised not to take advantage of its dominant market position on the gas supply market to obtain rights relating to the access to or control of gas infrastructure."