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Hydro answers EU gas criticism

June 13, 2001, 10:00 CEST

Hydro released a statement today on an anti-competition claim from the European Union regarding natural gas sales.

Here is the text of a press release distributed Wednesday:

NORSK HYDRO OPPOSES THE EUROPEAN UNION'S CLAIM REGARDING GAS SALES AND THE EU'S COMPETITION RULES

Norsk Hydro today received a "Statement of Objections" from the European Union's competition authority, which is the first step in a formal process in which the Commission claims that sales of gas from the Norwegian continental shelf have occurred in conflict with the EU's competition law.

Since the mid-1980s, natural gas produced on the Norwegian continental shelf has been marketed through the Gas Negotiating Committee (GNC), a framework that has been established by Norwegian authorities with binding effect for all companies offering gas for sale.

Norsk Hydro strongly disagrees that the EU has a foundation for competition action against the company.

A Statement of Objections is the beginning of a process and creates a foundation for further action. Hydro has received three months to answer the complaint. The EU Commission's final decision can be an acquittal of the claim, a finding against the company without a fine or a fine, which can be appealed to the EU court.

Norwegian authorities temporarily discontinued GNC activities in the European Economic Area from 1 June 2001 while awaiting action by the Norwegian Parliament this autumn that would permanently abolish the committee from 1 January 2002. The action the EU has initiated refers to earlier gas sales. Hydro now handles sales of natural gas from the Norwegian shelf though the company's own marketing businesses.