Brussels to hold inquiry into EU gas market

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The Independent Online

Brussels is to launch an investigation into the European Union's gas and electricity markets after complaints that high gas prices on the Continent have been responsible for driving up UK energy bills.

Brussels is to launch an investigation into the European Union's gas and electricity markets after complaints that high gas prices on the Continent have been responsible for driving up UK energy bills.

The director general of the European Commission's competition directorate, Philip Lowe, disclosed plans to undertake the inquiry when he appeared yesterday before Westminster MPs, who have been examining the surge in wholesale gas prices.

Ofgem, the UK energy regulator, welcomed news of the EU investigation, which follows its own lengthy inquiry into sharp spikes last year in UK gas prices. Ofgem's inquiry broadly cleared gas shippers of manipulating prices but it raised a number of questions about the way in which the European gas market operated.

Alistair Buchanan, the chief executive of Ofgem, said: "We welcome the Commission's decision to include the issues we raised about the operation of the European gas market in the review."

Among the concerns voiced by Ofgem was the apparent failure of several European gas companies to make surplus supplies available so they could be shipped across to the UK through the interconnector from Belgium.

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