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Gazprom's Q1 Profit Plummets 24%

Gazprom's first-quarter net profit fell 24 percent. Above, a worker at a Gazprom facility in Yamal-Nenets autonomous district.

Gazprom said first-quarter net profit fell 24 percent as sales dropped and it paid back European clients who had said its prices were too high, although the fall was not as sharp as expected.

Gazprom had agreed to tweak long-term deals with major European customers and pay them back. Those retroactive payments exceeded 78 billion rubles ($2.4 billion) in the first quarter, the company reported Thursday.

Even so, the European Commission opened an investigation this week into Gazprom's practices in eastern and central Europe, saying it was concerned that the natural gas producer was abusing its dominant position in the region's upstream gas-supply markets.

Gazprom's January-March net profit attributable to shareholders fell to 358 billion rubles from 468 billion rubles in the same quarter a year ago, although it exceeded the 345 billion estimated in a Reuters poll of analysts.

Sales decreased to 1.22 trillion rubles from 1.32 trillion rubles in the previous year, below the 1.24 trillion forecast by analysts.

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