13 Nov 2009 15:25

Regulator: domestic gasoline overpriced - Golomolzin

MOSCOW. Nov 13 (Interfax) - Prices on Russia's domestic market in petroleum products, particularly gasoline, are too high, the deputy head of the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS), Anatoly Golomolzin, said.

"We don't like the current prices. They are all out of proportion to netback parity between the domestic and export markets. Margins on domestic sales are 5,000-6,000 rubles higher than on exports," he said.

The FAS is analyzing the situation but it is still too early to say whether price-fixing charges will be leveled against the oil companies.

It was reported at the end of 2008 that the FAS charged Gazprom Neft , TNK-BP , Rosneft and Lukoil with abusing their commanding position on the oil products market and levied fines amounting to 1 billion-1.5 billion rubles. The oil companies are disputing the fines in court.

This summer the FAS levied a second series of fines: TNK-BP - 4.197 billion rubles, Gazprom Neft - 4.675 billion rubles and Rosneft - 5.28 billion rubles. The companies are also disputing those fines in court.

In October the FAS sent a letter to Rosneft, Lukoil, TNK-BP, Gazprom Neft, Surgutneftegas , Ayans and Tatneft demanding that they explain why wholesale prices on oil products did not decline in August-September 2009. It also demanded that the oil companies reduce oil product prices to market levels.

New anti-monopoly laws that entered force on August 23 provide criminal penalties for violations of anti-monopoly laws and also allows for state and municipal officials to be held liable.

The FAS said the new laws contain a precise definition of monopolistic prices, such as a price that declines more slowly than the decline worldwide. The head of the FAS said that the new law applied particularly to the Russian fuel market.