German cartel office probes gas suppliers' tariff policy

Dec 21, 2004 01:00 AM

The German Cartel Office said it has launched an investigation into the tariff policy of gas suppliers in Germany.
Among those involved in the investigation are Germany's main gas-distribution companies: E.ON's gas unit, E.ON Ruhrgas; RWE; and, Verbundnetz Gas. Wingas, a joint venture between BASF's Wintershall and Gazprom of Russia, is also among parties being investigated.

The Cartel Office said it will conclude the investigation in 2005. It has also launched a second investigation, into five other gas suppliers which it said had the highest prices in its jurisdiction. These include RWE's Mitgas; MVV Energie; Stadtwerke Ulm; E.ON's Thuega Erdgas Allgaeu-Oberschwaben; and, Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg's EnBW Ostwuerttemberg Donau.
At four other suppliers, including two E.ON subsidiaries, the companies have agreed to reduce the planned price hike, or have committed to not further raise them over a certain period. In these cases, no formal investigation has been launched, the Cartel Office said.

Many of Germany's gas suppliers have raised their tariffs, arguing they had to pass on higher oil prices. Some have also announced further hikes for next year.
The price increases have irked politicians and consumers.

Source: Dow Jones
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