The construction of interconnecting pipelines between countries, and the rise of gas trading particularly in Northern and Western Europe, have helped drive prices down. And Gazprom’s market position has been further challenged by the prospect of increased supply from the United States, as well as a greater reliance on renewable energy sources that produce electricity, like wind and solar power.
The settlement “is actually recognizing what the status quo would have been in two or three years’ time,” Mr. Stern said.
There may be other consequences, though.
By accepting this de facto code of conduct, Gazprom may be helping one of its pet causes — the building of a controversial new pipeline between Russia and northern Germany called Nord Stream 2.
The United States and other countries oppose the pipeline, partly on the grounds that it would tighten the company’s hold on the European market. In fact, Poland’s own antimonopoly office has launched proceedings against Gazprom and five European companies for financing the pipeline. The project is favored by Germany, though, on the grounds that it would provide another supply route.
The settlement could set “the ground rules” for getting wider acceptance for Nord Stream 2, according to Trevor Sikorski, an analyst at Energy Aspects, a market research firm.
“It makes it more difficult to oppose Nord Stream 2 on the basis of market dominance,” he said.