The European Commission has launched an investigation into long-term liquefied natural gas (LNG) supply agreements between seaborne gas supplier Qatar Petroleum, five of its LNG subsidiaries, and European importers.
The inquiry is to determine whether these deals have hindered the free flow of gas within the European Economic Area (EEA), in breach of EU antitrust rules.
“Energy should flow freely within Europe, regardless of where it comes from. We have opened an investigation to look at whether there are problematic territorial restriction clauses in gas supply contracts with Qatar Petroleum. Such clauses may harm competition and prevent consumers from enjoying the benefits of an integrated European energy market,” Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said.
The Commission will investigate whether Qatar Petroleum’s agreements of 20 and 25 years for the supply of LNG into the EEA contain direct and/or indirect territorial restrictions. In particular, certain terms and conditions in these agreements appear to, directly or indirectly, restrict the EEA importers’ freedom to sell the LNG in alternative destinations within the EEA.
Qatar Petroleum stressed that it “gives the highest importance to compliance with regulatory authorities in all geographical areas in which it operates.”