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SOFIA (Bulgaria), March 1 (SeeNews) - State-owned Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) said on Friday that, together with its units Bulgartransgaz and Bulgargaz, it has challenged before the EU's General Court the 77.1 million euro ($87.7 million) fine imposed on the three companies by the European Commission for blocking competitors' access to key gas infrastructure.
"BEH and its subsidiaries do not accept the Commission’s findings that they have abused a dominant position on the Bulgarian gas market," BEH said in a statement.
BEH and its units are seeking annulment of the Commission's decision to fine them.
In December, the Commission said that between 2010 and 2015, the BEH group blocked access to the sole import pipeline bringing gas into Bulgaria, the country's only gas storage facility - Chiren, and the domestic gas transmission network. Without access to this essential infrastructure, it was impossible for potential competitors to enter wholesale gas supply markets in Bulgaria. This prevented any development of competition and ensured a near monopoly for Bulgargaz, the EU institution concluded.
BEH pools together state-owned energy companies, including gas infrastructure operator Bulgartransgaz and gas supplier Bulgargaz.
Bulgaria imports almost all the natural gas it needs from Russia via a pipeline crossing Ukraine, Moldova and Romania.
($ = 0.8791 euro)