EU Court ruled that restricts gas pumping bypassing Ukraine

On July 15, the European Court of Justice ruled on the OPAL gas pipeline case, upholding its previous decision, which was beneficial for Poland.

EU Court ruled that restricts gas pumping bypassing Ukraine

This is reported by “Evropeyskaya Pravda” with reference to the Polish edition of Enegetyka24.

The European Commission’s decision of October 28, 2016 allowed Russia’s Gazprom to supply more gas via the OPAL pipeline, which links its Nord Stream gas pipeline with Germany. It allowed Gazprom to fully utilize Nord Stream to supply gas to Germany and the Czech Republic. Prior to that, the Russians used half of the pipeline’s capacity.

A number of countries in the region protested against the EC decision, in particular Poland, which filed a complaint with the EU Court of Justice.

Poland believes that the decision of the European Commission leads to concentration in the same hands of sources and means of gas supply, which “contradicts the principle of diversification of sources, supply routes and risk management of obstacles or interruption of gas supplies”. OPAL is 80% owned by WIGA, a joint venture between Gazprom and Wintershall, and the rest is a subsidiary of the German concern.

On September 10, 2019, the European Court of Justice overturned the European Commission’s decision of October 28, 2016, which allowed Russian Gazprom to supply more gas through the OPAL gas pipeline, which connects its Nord Stream gas pipeline with Germany.

The long-term implication of the decision of the ECJ is that the pipeline operator must provide access to its infrastructure to third parties, and the use of a particular pipeline cannot be 50% guaranteed exclusively for Gazprom – in this particular case.

The court has clearly indicated that such pipelines cannot be excluded from EU rules.
After the September decision, the Russians had to reduce the volume of gas transported through the Nord Stream by 12.8 billion cubic meters per year, and Gazprom began to increase gas transit to Europe through Ukraine.
However, in December of the same year, Germany appealed against the decision of the General Court (first instance).

On March 18 this year, the General Counsel of the EU Court of Justice issued an opinion, which confirmed the arguments of the Polish side, while emphasizing that the decision on the OPAL case may be important for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

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