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EU to publish results of Gazprom pricing probe by spring

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(VILNIUS) - The European Union expects to publish the results of its investigation into Gazprom's pricing and contract policy by "spring next year", EU energy chief Guenther Oettinger said Thursday.

"I can't say which month or which day. But it's not a never-ending story," the commissioner said in Vilnuis, adding EU experts would complete their "analysis in (the) next six months."

Brussels launched its probe into the Russian fuel giant's use of long-term contracts in September 2012 over suspected infringement of EU competition rules in member states including Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia.

Speaking in Lithuania -- current holder of the EU's rotating presidency -- Oettinger insisted Thursday the move had no political overtones and urged Gazprom to play by EU rules.

"Our Russian partners have to understand and to accept that we have European Union rules. (It) means we are market-based, market-oriented," he said.

Lithuania has repeatedly accused Gazprom of unfair prices. The Russian energy giant is the post-Soviet Baltic state's only natural gas supplier, via a pipeline across Belarus.

Vilnius is attempting to break that monopoly by constructing a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal which due to start operations by the end of 2014.

The Baltic republic of three million is also seeking EU funding for a gas pipeline linking it with larger southern EU neighbour Poland.

Energy ministers from across the 28-member EU meet Thursday and Friday in Vilnius.

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