World Bulletin / News Desk
Russia's Gazprom will repay about 1 billion euros ($1.28 billion) to its European clients by the end of the year as part of an agreement to cut gas prices, a company official said on Monday.
The state-run gas producer had agreed to tweak long-term deals with key European customers who claimed that its prices were too high and it returned more than 78 billion roubles ($2.43 billion) in the first quarter.
The repayments failed to stop the European Commision from launching an investigation into Gazprom last week. The Commission is to look at suspected anti-competitive practices in central and eastern Europe and could issue fines of up to $5 billion.
Deputy Chief Executive Alexander Medvedev told a conference call on Monday that the new payments would be "significantly lower" than in the first quarter and would total about 1 billion euros, "plus or minus 10 to 15 percent".
The bulk of this will go to German utility E.ON.
The European Commission's action continues what has been a tense relationship between the European Union and Moscow over energy policy as European governments seek new sources for their gas.
Lithuania and the Czech subsidiary of RWE, Germany's second-biggest utility company, had both been trying to negotiate better deals on their gas from Russia, while Poland's PGNiG went as far as bringing Gazprom into an arbitration court.
Gazprom last week reported a 24 percent fall in first-quarter net profits because of its repayments so far and said that it was ready to cooperate with the European Commission investigation.
Medvedev added that he will soon meet a deputy competition commissioner to discuss the investigation face to face. ($1 = 0.7812 euros)
Dollar strength and waning investor confidence are driving the lira lower
Greece has already received two bailouts totalling 240 billion euros but fellow euro zone member Ireland said last week that it would have to negotiate a third programme.
The Ukraine crisis has tested the loyalties of Bulgaria, a Balkan country with historical ties to Moscow and heavily dependent on Russian energy supplies.
Syria expels three United Nations aid workers hindering aid development in the country
Russia has overcome a "psychological barrier" and is ready to deepen its economic ties with China, Deputy Prime MinisterArkady Dvorkovich said
With Chancellor Angela Merkel's right-left coalition plus the opposition Greens, it was the biggest majority for any euro zone rescue package so far in the 631-seat chamber.
The agreement commits Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi to cooperate with the United States in customs issues, ease red tape at borders, reduce customs wait times and harmonize trade standards.
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has unnerved China with his re-examination of certain projects that Chinahas invested in, including a $1.5 billion "port city" project in Colombo.
EU energy chief Maros Sefcovic invited Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Demchyshyn for talks
Gazprom and Ukrainian state energy firm Naftogaz have accused each other of not sticking to agreements on gas supplies.
The new canal, that will allow two-way traffic of larger ships, is supposed to increase revenues by 2023 to $13 billion.
A day after euro zone finance ministers agreed to a four-month extension of a financial rescue, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis gave a frank assessment of Greece's financial position.
The agreement is the culmination of talks that began in September after the government decided its own solutions to its fiscal crisis were failing to convince investors.
Energy union highlights bloc's attempt to seek independency from its main gas supplier - Russia.
Merkel's right-left coalition is set to prevail, despite vocal pockets of resistance on the right and left.
Republicans passed the bill to increase pressure on Obama to approve the pipeline, a move the president said would bypass a State Department process that will determine whether the project is in the U.S. national interest.