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Gazprom not dominant like Microsoft -EU's Piebalgs

RIGA, Oct 15 (Reuters) - The EU has no need to act against Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom GAZP.MM as the company does not have the same dominance as the bloc's antitrust target Microsoft MSFT.O, Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said.

Gazprom’s growing influence on the market has aroused concerns as it supplies one quarter of the European Union’s gas.

But Piebalgs said on Monday that its market share was relatively small compared with that of software maker Microsoft.

“Do we treat Gazprom as we treat Microsoft? Yes we do. The difference is that Microsoft has 100 percent of the market,” Piebalgs told a conference in the Latvian capital Riga.

“That is why we do not take measures against Gazprom, there is no need. They do not play a big enough role in the market.”

The European Commission this year won a decisive court battle against Microsoft for abusing a dominant market position to crush rivals.

Other speakers at the conference expressed fears of Russia’s increased use of its energy resources.

One worry has been the building of a pipeline under the Baltic Sea by a Gazprom-led consortium, which includes Germany BASF BASF.DE and E.ON EONG.DE.

This has worried Poland in particular, which fears the pipeline currently carrying Russian gas to the West will be bypassed. Piebalgs had no such reservations.

“I have no difficulties with this project as it stands,” he said, adding that he regretted the political difficulties surrounding it. “We should look at it on its own merits.”

Piebalgs said the answer to worries about suppliers like Gazprom was the power of the European Union as a consumer with 500 million inhabitants, the rules of the internal market and further diversification of energy sources.

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