German Cartel Office Criticizes Access to Gas Grid and Investigates Resale Clauses

A comprehensive sector study by the German Cartel Office concluded that the operators of the German long-distance gas pipelines obstruct competition by concluding long-term contracts with subsidiaries or affiliated companies, thereby reserving important entry points for group companies.

In the opinion of the Cartel Office, the risk of market foreclosure justifies investigations for abuse of a dominant position. However, the Office wants to wait for current legal developments before  initiating proceedings.  According to a draft paper by the Federal Government, capacity bookings shall be limited in duration in the planned amendment of the Gas Grid Access Ordinance, including existing contracts.  The Cartel Office expressly supports the proposed new regulation.

The Cartel Office also looked into contract clauses banning the resale of gas (Wiederverkaufsverbote). The Office called them especially problematic when they are linked with a take-or-pay clause.  The Office started the first proceedings and wants to extend them to the electricity market, if necessary.

Source: German Cartel Office

Regarding the investigation of E.ON Ruhrgas by the European Commission please see here.