The Decision of the Plenum of the Competition Council No. APD - 01/22-54 as of 02.11.2023

On the 28th of January, 2022, having in consideration suspicions arising from the examination of the actions of "Transautogaz" SRL regarding the alleged unjustified increase in the price of compressed natural gas for vehicles as of the 22nd of January, 2022, and in the context of significant public interest, the Plenum of the Competition Council initiated, ex officio, an investigation through Disposition No. 01 dated 28th January, 2022, concerning the possible violation of the provisions of Article 11, paragraphs (1) and (2), letter (a) of Competition Law No. 183/2012 by "Transautogaz" SRL regarding the application of unfair pricing in the sale of compressed natural gas for vehicles (hereinafter referred to as GNCV).

A notification about a possible distortion in the GNCV market was also forwarded to the Competition Council by ANRE (National Regulatory Authority for Energy), with the regulator requesting an investigation to ascertain whether "Transautogaz" SRL, due to its affiliation with the "Moldovagaz" SA group of companies, used any non-public information related to a potential retroactive change in the price of natural gas, to gain a competitive advantage over other market providers.

Upon reviewing the facts, the Competition Council concluded that there was no evidence of abusive conduct by "Transautogaz" SRL. Consequently, the determination of the relevant market definition and the market position of "Transautogaz" SRL was left open, as the investigated action did not raise competition concerns.

In fact, with respect to the subject of the investigation, it was determined that, following Disposition No. 4 dated 2nd November, 2021 of the Commission for Exceptional Situations, ANRE approved by Decision No. 503 of the ANRE Board dated 9th November, 2021 regulated prices for the supply of natural gas by "Moldovagaz" SA, with retroactive application from 1st November, 2021.

Given that natural gas constitutes the raw material in the production of GNCV, this precedent resulted in financial losses for GNCV providers, including "Transautogaz" SRL, due to the price difference between the natural gas and the GNCV price during the period from 1st November, 2021, to 9th November, 2021. These losses were expected to be recovered over time by including them in GNCV sale prices, and they also carried the risk of payment default to "Moldovagaz" SA, along with uncertainty about the preventive measures to be taken in such situations.

On the 21st of January, 2022, the natural gas supplier "Moldovagaz" SA publicly announced on its own website and its Facebook page that it had requested ANRE to increase regulated natural gas prices, specifying both the requested prices and the retroactive effective date of 1st January, 2022.



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