(NW) Antitrust Watchdog: Lukoil Has Abused Dominant Position

November 11 (BTA) – The Commission on Protection of Competition (CPC) said on Thursday that Lukoil has violated the Protection of Competition Act and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The Commission instituted proceedings against Lukoil Bulgaria in connection with abuse of monopoly or dominance at the request of OMV Bulgaria, without specifying the cause for the complaint. Considering the socioeconomic importance of fuels due to their direct impact on the prices of goods and services on the Bulgarian market, the Commission has analyzed the competitive market environment of motor fuels under the antitrust proceedings. CPC found that Lukoil has limited the access to its tax warehouses, thus violating the law. The regulator stresses that the Lukoil Group owns the largest warehouse and transport infrastructure network, which makes it the most dominant enterprise on the motor fuels market. The Lukoil Group companies abused that strong position by: not making their tax warehouses available for others to store fuels, restricting the access to their tax warehouses, connected to the biggest sea terminals for oil in the country and not making their pipelines for transporting imported fuels available for others, CPC said. These practices indicate the Group’s common strategy for creating barriers for fuel imports inside Bulgaria, CPC added. Such actions aim to redistribute the demand for fuels on the internal market and force traders to search for fuels of local origin, which are those produced by Lukoil. That narrows wholesalers’ choice and affects the final price for the consumers. Lukoil Group’s corporate conduct constitutes abuse of dominance, according to both Bulgaria’s national law and European Union law, as it restricts the import and may affect trade between the EU member states, CPC noted. Lukoil may submit written objections within 60 days. RY/KK //