EU court clears Bulgarian gas firms of market power abuse
Oct 25 (Reuters) - Bulgaria's BEH and subsidiaries Bulgargaz and Bulgartransgaz were cleared of charges of abusing their dominant position in the gas supply market on Wednesday as the European Union's General Court annulled a 2018 ruling.
The European Commission had earlier ruled the state-owned companies infringed EU rules by refusing third parties access to piped Russian gas supply and to Bulgaria's only natural gas storage facility.
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Bulgargaz was the exclusive user of the pipeline which was managed by Transgaz at a time when Bulgaria's gas supply depended almost entirely on imports from Russia.
The Commission had said that prevented Bulgargaz's competitors from developing their business and fined the companies approximately 77 million euros.
The General Court, however, said that while Bulgargaz had a dominant position as exclusive user of the pipeline, the Commission had failed to prove that this had caused the difficulties third parties had when they requested access.
It also said the Commission had failed to let BEH Group argue its position against the allegations in full.
(Reporting by Bart Meijer; editing by Jason Neely)