The Agency has commenced a procedure in order to establish a prohibited restrictive agreement or concerted practice between the undertakings Butan plin, d.d., Ljubljana, INA Slovenija, d.o.o., Istrabenz plini d.o.o. and Plinarna Maribor d.o.o.

The Slovenian Competition Protection Agency, Dunajska 58, 1000 Ljubljana, (hereinafter: the Agency) issued an order on the commencement of procedure on 7 September 2020 initiating the procedure for establishing a violation of Article 6 of ZPOmK-1 (Official Gazette of the RS, no. 36/08, 40/09, 26/11, 87/11, 57/12, 39/13 Decisions of the US, 33/14, 76/15 and 23/17, hereinafter: ZPOmK-1) and Article 101 Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (Official Journal of the EU C 325, 26.10.2012, hereinafter: TFEU) against the companies Butan plin dru┼żba za distribucije plina, d.d., Ljubljana, Verov┼íkova ulica 64A, 1000 Ljubljana; INA Slovenia, trgovina s teko─Źim naftnim plinom in naftnimi derivati, d.o.o., Kotnikova ulica 5, 1000 Ljubljana; Istrabenz plini, plini in plinske tehnologije, d.o.o., Bertoki, Sermin 8A, 6000 Koper - Capodistria and Plinarna Maribor dru┼żba za proizvodnjo, distribucijo energentov, trgovino in storitve d.o.o., Plinarni┼íka ulica 9, 2000 Maribor.

It is probable that the above undertakings that sell LPG cylinders violated Article 6 of ZPOmK-1 and Article 101 TFEU by agreeing not to take over proprietary LPG cylinders from each other, and such agreements are also adhered to with the aim of sharing the market for LPG cylinders, which is a restrictive agreement or concerted practice aimed at preventing, restricting or distorting competition in the Republic of Slovenia and in a significant part of the internal market of the European Union, which could affect trade between the Member States of the European Union.

The Agency considers that it is probable that the parties to the procedure have mutually agreed not to take possession of LPG cylinders from each other. The undertakings Butan plin, Istrabenz plini and Plinarna Maribor have also issued the general conditions, which prohibit end sellers and consumers from transferring possession of undertakingÔÇÖs proprietary LPG cylinders. Those three undertakings also issue a deposit certificate to consumers upon payment of a deposit when handing over the proprietary LPG cylinders to consumers. The above mentioned three undertakings make the refund of the deposit paid upon the return of their own proprietary cylinder conditional on the delivery of a validly completed deposit certificate, although there is no valid reason for this. It is likely that such certificates are eventually lost, stocked, etc., as a result of which the consumer can no longer return the cylinder in a way to get the full deposit returned.

There is a possibility that the consumer will not change the LPG provider due to the above and will stay with the current one. According to the Agency, it is likely that the aim of the parties to the procedure was market sharing. Market sharing, however, usually leads to higher prices for the consumer.
 

 

 

 

 

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