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Monday, February 02, 2009

Arbitration court overturns $37 mln fine for Gazprom Neft

MOSCOW, February 2 (RIA Novosti) - The St. Petersburg Arbitration Court has overturned a 1.35 billion ruble ($37 million) fine earlier imposed on Gazprom Neft, the Russian antitrust service reported on Monday. The Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) said the court had acted beyond its jurisdiction and that it would challenge the ruling. Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of Russian energy behemoth Gazprom, was fined in November, as was Russian-British joint oil venture TNK-BP, to a tune of 1.1 billion rubles ($39 million at the current rate of exchange), for abusing their monopoly positions. Gazprom Neft appealed the fine with an arbitration court, first in Moscow and then in St. Petersburg. In December, the regulator imposed a $53 million fine on state-run oil giant Rosneft and a $51 million fine on Russia's largest independent crude producer LUKoil. The two oil companies were accused of fixing prices for gasoline, diesel fuel, aviation fuel and fuel oil in the summer. The watchdog had demanded that seven oil producers lower their fuel prices and threatened tougher sanctions amid falling oil prices on the global market. The FAS cited prices in the EU and United States, where gasoline prices had fallen 15%-20% since the summer, while fuel prices almost remained unchanged in Russia.

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