The European Commission, in a statement, said its teams carried out unannounced inspections on Tuesday “at the premises of several companies in Germany active in the supply, transmission and storage of natural gas”.
Two sources familiar with the matter said that a main target of the operation was Gazprom, the state gas giant that is accused of sparking an energy crunch in the European Union.
According to a report by Bloomberg, officials visited offices of companies that included the giant’s Gazprom Germania GmbH and Wingas GmbH, which supply about 20 percent of the German market.
The commission, the EU’s powerful antitrust authority, is currently looking into allegations that Gazprom squeezed its European clients by limiting supply, causing prices to skyrocket.
Gazprom has a powerful hand over the EU with Russia providing roughly 40 percent of its gas supply, mainly to Germany, Italy and a few eastern European countries.
The gas flow to the EU has become an object of discord in the war in Ukraine, with Kiev calling on the Europeans to cut off their Russian supply line to punish the Kremlin for its invasion.
But led by Germany, the EU has refrained from an energy embargo against Russia, fearing the heavy consequences to the economy, especially factories that would risk short term closure if the supply were to stop suddenly.
Germany and Austria on Wednesday raised the alert level under their emergency gas plans over fears that Russia could cut off supplies.
Given the tensions, the European Union has announced plans to slash its imports of Russian gas by two-thirds this year.