EU Court Backs Cap On Gazprom's Opal Use
The EU Court of Justice has overruled a decision by the European Commission (EC) giving Russia’s Gazprom full access to a German pipeline connecting with Nord Stream, Poland’s energy ministry stated on September 10.
The EC decided in October 2016 to allow Gazprom to use 100% of the Opal pipeline’s 36bn m3/yr capacity. Using this extra space, Gazprom was able to ramp up shipments via the 55bn m3/yr Nord Stream that links with OPAL in northeast Germany. The removal of restrictions also strengthened the case for its construction of Nord Stream 2, due on stream in early 2020.
Poland challenged the ruling later that year, which it said would consolidate Gazprom’s dominant position in the European gas market. Lithuania and Latvia also backed Poland’s case.
In a statement, Polish energy minister Krzysztof Tchorzewski said the court’s decision showed that Poland’s concerns were legitimate.
“I am glad that Poland’s arguments in such as important European institution are well heard,” he said. “Poland’s victory in this case reduces the likelihood of a serious gas crisis in Ukraine, which could also hit other countries in the region, including Poland.”
Polish gas company PGNiG weighed in, stating that the EC's decision on OPAL's capacity use was in conflict with EU law, including its Third Energy Package.
“The Commission failed to consider, among other things, the impact its decision would have on the gas markets in Poland, Lithuania and Latvia and other Central European countries,” it said in a press release. “EU energy legislation is designed to prevent the monopolisation of access to gas pipelines within the Community.”
PGNiG noted that the court's judgement was immediately enforceable, although the EC could launch an appeal.