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)
A fifth payment of $450 million was due on April 15, contingent on Iran having diluted half of its most sensitive stockpile of nuclear materials
The year-on-year inflation rate in the 18 countries sharing the euro was 0.5 percent in March against 0.7 percent in February, the European Union's statistics office Eurostat said.
Pushed by higher food and shelter costs, the consumer price index rose in March.
Country of origin labels are currently voluntary in the European Union and many of the bloc's governments want to keep it that way
While reverse flows would help cushion the effects of a Russian export cut during mild-demand summer months, analysts say they would not be sufficient in winter.
The tanker, Aegean Dignity, is due to take its load to Italy, the NOC quoted an oil official as saying in a statement on its website
TAP aims at enhancing the security of natural gas supply as well as diversification of gas supplies for the European markets.
Charlie Shrem, 24, was arrested in January and stepped down as vice president of the Bitcoin Foundation, a well-known trade group, soon after.
The religious endowments minister has ordered mosques not to run air conditioners before May 15 and after that date to use air conditioning only during prayer time
Most foreign workers in the construction and oil industries come from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, while many domestic workers are from Indonesia and the Philippines
Lukoil has been decreasing its stake in Caspian Investment Resources Ltd, to share the costs at the projects, which require extensive financing.
Israel, which occupied the West Bank in a 1967 war, controls the airwaves of the territory, and Palestinian firms' lack of 3G is a constraint on its technology sector while Israel's soars
The hryvnia has lost about 38 percent of its value against the dollar since the beginning of the year due to the conflict with Russia.
The Austrian justice ministry said "numerous" persons were being investigated over money-laundering and other crimes, including former Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his son Oleksii.
Ali Majedi, Iran's deputy oil minister for international affairs and trade, said Moscow and Tehran would struggle to agree such a deal.