The EU’s top court in Luxemburg has restricted Russian gas to 35% of the capacity of Germany’s onshore pipeline extension of Nord Stream 1. This decision, which can be appealed by Nov. 20, is likely to force Russia to maintain minimal gas flows through Ukraine in 2020.
In July, Poland challenged a European Commission decision from 2016 that allowed Gazprom PJSC to use most of the capacity on the Opal pipeline in Germany. That link in turn carries fuel from the Baltic Sea Nord Stream 1 pipeline, a key part of the Moscow-based company’s plans to avoid shipping its fuel across Ukraine.
Ukraine’s Naftogaz and Gazprom will begin talks in Brussels next week over a new gas transit contract. The current contract expires on January 1. Ukraine Business News quoted Vuriy Vitrenko, executive director of Naftogaz as saying: “I hope that all this is a sign of a gradual change in Europe’s attitude to Gazprom and Russia’s use of gas as an instrument of political influence.” The EU is participating in talks to renew Russia’s gas transit contract with Ukraine.
UBN quoted Poland’s Energy Minister Krzysztof Tchorzewski as saying: “Poland’s victory, in this case, reduces the likelihood of a serious gas crisis in Ukraine, which could also impact other countries in the region, including Poland.” Maciej Wozniak, the deputy CEO of PGNiG, Poland’s state-controlled energy company, said: “Thanks to forbidding Gazprom from monopolizing the OPAL gas pipeline, the Russian side will not be able to fully halt gas transits to Europe via Ukraine, at least in the coming months.”
Half-owned by Gazprom, the OPAL pipeline runs 470 kilometers from Germany’s Baltic Sea coast to Germany’s southern border with the Czech Republic. Its 36.5 billion cubic meters a year capacity is slightly more than the capacity of Nord Stream 1. Although the €1 billion pipelines was commissioned in 2011, Poland argues that current EU energy law does not allow for monopolies.
Source: Ukraine Business News