The Competition Council sanctioned the company Delgaz Grid SA, a member of the E.ON group, with a fine of about 30 million lei (approximately 6.1 million euros) for abuse of a dominant position on the market of services related to natural gas distribution, respectively on the market of verification and technical revision services of Natural Gas Utilization Installations (IUGN) in the distribution area of Delgaz Grid SA.
Delgaz Grid SA holds a monopoly position on the natural gas distribution market related to the geographical areas for which it has a distribution license, in this case the counties located in the northern part of the country (Maramureș, Satu Mare, Sălaj, Cluj, Bistrița Năsăud, Timiș, Arad , Bihor, Caraș-Severin, Hunedoara, Mureș, Sibiu, Alba, Harghita, Iași, Botoșani, Vaslui, Suceava, Neamț, Bacău).
In the investigation launched at the end of 2018, the Competition Authority found that, between March 2015 and December 2018, Delgaz Grid SA, as a natural gas distributor, abused its dominant position by refusing to grant access to all companies. from the market to an essential facility - the registration of the records of the technical verification / revision works in its database.
In this way, discriminatory conditions were created for the companies present on this market compared to one of the companies within the E.ON group.
The favoring of the company within the E.ON group contributed to the consolidation of its position on the market of verification and overhaul services of the natural gas utilization installations supplied in the Delgaz distribution area.
The service of recording the data from the records of the verification and revision works in the distributor's database is indispensable for a company that competes on the market of the verification and technical revision services of the natural gas installations, being essential for the activity. By not registering or delaying the registration of the files in the database administered by Delgaz Grid SA, the mechanism of operation of the market of verification services and technical revisions of natural gas installations was interrupted and non-functional, as the information related to the due date of verification / the technical revision was not transmitted in time to the final consumer, by the notification made by the natural gas supplier, or to the authorized economic operators already in a contractual relationship with the customers.
“The anti-competitive actions undertaken by Delgaz Grid SA have led both to affect the competition on the market of technical verification and revision services provided in its area of distribution, by limiting the access of economic operators on this market and preventing their development, as well as affecting consumers, by restricting their ability to choose service providers for technical checks / revisions and by increasing spending on such services, "said Bogdan Chirițoiu, the president of the Competition Council.
In its capacity as operator of the natural gas distribution system, Delgaz Grid SA had a special obligation to ensure non-discriminatory treatment for companies operating in related markets, in particular to avoid favoring in any way the companies that are part of the same group. .
The activities of verification and technical revision of the natural gas use installations are carried out in competitive conditions, by economic operators authorized by ANRE and selected by the final customer. The tariffs charged by the operators authorized to carry out the services of verifications and technical revisions of the installations for the use of natural gas are established in market conditions, based on the demand and supply.
Delgaz Grid SA fully acknowledged the anti-competitive facts and benefited from the reduction of the fine.
In recent years, the Competition Authority has imposed several sanctions on companies operating in the gas distribution services market for infringing competition rules.
Thus, the company Distrigaz Sud Reţele SRL (DGSR) was fined 17,650,326 lei (approx. 3.7 million euros), for abuse of a dominant position manifested by the practice of excessive tariffs, economically unjustified, for the technical approval of execution projects , reception and commissioning of natural gas installations (IUGN).
The natural gas distributor Premier Energy SRL, as the legal successor of the company Gaz Sud SA was sanctioned with 6.3 million lei (approx. 1.3 million euros) because it abused its dominant position by imposing tariffs discriminatory for services of technical approval of projects, reception of works and commissioning of IUGN, differentiated according to the performer of design and execution of installations.
The natural gas distributor Wirom Gas SA and nine executors of works in the field were fined 920,069 lei for concluding an anti-competitive agreement by which they established a fixed price for the realization of IUGN.
Following the implementation of the commitments assumed by E-Distribuţie Muntenia SA (EDM) in the context of the investigation regarding a possible abuse of a dominant position, the average duration of obtaining the technical connection approvals (ATR) issued by the company decreased by 20%. , the number of connection requests increased by 30%. Also, the intervention of the Competition Council has led to an increase in the transparency of the connection process and the general degree of information of users about the connection process, in the last year, the number of customers using the online connection service increasing by over 90%.
The Competition Council is closely monitoring the gas market, especially in the context of its liberalization for household consumers from 1 July 2020, and will intervene through all legal levers to discourage any misconduct.