By its judgment of today, 25 October 2023, the General Court of the European Union in Luxembourg rendered a final judgment at first instance for the annulment of the decision of the European Commission in Case COMP/B1/АТ.39849 – BEH gas. It is recalled that the case is linked to allegations that Bulgarian Energy Holding EAD and the subsidiaries Bulgargaz EAD and Bulgartransgaz EAD had abused with a dominant position during the period 2010 to 2015 refusing to grant access to strategic gas infrastructure in Bulgaria.
By today’s decision, the General Court annuls the decision of the European Commission and the imposed fine amounting to a total of EUR 77 068 000.
The General Court of the EU found that contrary to the Commission’s allegations, the conduct of Bulgartransgaz EAD had not prevented third parties to be granted access to the Bulgarian gas transmission network and the underground gas storage facility. According to the judgment of the Court no company could have entered the Bulgarian gas market, respectively gained effective access to the gas transmission network and the Chiren gas storage facility without access to the Romanian Pipeline 1.
The General Court found that the Commission had not established any abuse of dominant position of Bulgartransgaz EAD.
"Today’s judgment of the General Court of the EU is another confirmation that Bulgartransgaz EAD had ensured all conditions required for the offer of transparent and non-discriminatory access to third parties both to the gas transmission network of Bulgaria, and to the gas storage facility in Chiren”, Vladimir Malinov, the Executive Director of Bulgartransgaz EAD, highlighted.
Currently, the Company has more than 80 Contracts for access and transport signed with users of the gas transmission network and 15 Contracts for access and storage of natural gas signed with users of Chiren UGS.
Bulgartransgaz EAD is a reliable and stable partner in the development and integration of the European energy market. The Company implements the licensing activities of transmission and storage of natural gas in strict compliance with the applicable requirements of the national and European law.
Bulgartransgaz EAD meets all criteria for independence according to the European requirements and is certified as an independent transmission operator.
Over the past years Bulgartransgaz EAD has modernised and extended the gas transmission infrastructure, thus enabling the bi-directional transmission of natural gas with practically all neighbouring countries, allowing the high level of diversification of the sources and routes of supply of natural gas to the region.
The Bulgarian gas transmission operator implements a number of projects of strategic importance for the energy security of Europe, including the EU projects of common interest for the expansion of Chiren UGS, the Interconnection Bulgaria – Serbia that ensure the possibility for access of new alternative gas sources in the region and the increase of competition between the market participants. Moreover, the Company is a shareholder with a holding of 20% in the project company Gastrade S.A., implementing the LNG terminal in Alexandroupolis, Greece.