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    Poland seeks refusal of certification for Nord Stream 2


The national gas company argues that the pipeline operator is not eligible for certification on several grounds.

by: William Powell

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Poland seeks refusal of certification for Nord Stream 2

Polish state-controlled PGNiG and its German subsidiary PGNiG Supply & Trading are seeking a negative outcome in the German certification procedure for Swiss-based Nord Stream 2 AG. They have requested participation in the process, they said August 2.

They said there were no legal grounds for the network operator BNetzA to certify the wholly-owned subsidiary of Russian exporter Gazprom. And without it, the line cannot start.

Berlin and Washington reached an agreement in July whereby US president, Joe Biden, tacitly conceded that the pipeline was a done deal.

But PGNiG CEO Pawel Majewski said Nord Stream 2 AG's request should be rejected "for formal and substantial reasons. Security of supplies as well as functioning of the EU internal market are at stake." If it were granted, Gazprom , the sole owner of the 55bn m³/yr pipeline, would enjoy a privileged position on the European gas market, he said.

Nord Stream 2 AG requested certification as an independent transmission system operator (ITO) in June, stressing this was a fall-back measure that did not affect its continuing pursuit of legal cases against the European Union (EU). It is seeking derogation from the Third Energy Package, which has been extended to some offshore pipelines.

The Polish companies said Swiss-based Nord Stream 2 AG was applying for ITO status in order to avoid ownership unbundling, third party access, and transparent tariffs. They also pointed to the judgement last month awarded against the European Commission in respect of capacity in the OPAL pipeline, which carries Nord Stream 1 gas: "No one can ignore the energy solidarity principle and overlook the impact of their decisions on the security of other EU member states anymore," said Majewski.

Furthermore, Nord Stream 2 AG not only has to be registered within the EU, according to the EU Gas Directive, but being owned by an entity outside the EU, before it may be granted an operator status, there has to be an "enhanced certification procedure, which includes a detailed impact analysis of certification for security of supplies.

PGNiG said that granting the ITO model certification was only possible for transmission systems that existed before May 23, 2019, whereas NS 2 pipeline – expected to be complete late this month – was not built at that date. 

"Such a procedure is conducted by the competent authority of a given member state in co-operation with the  European Commission (EC). The regulatory authority is obliged to refuse certification that would put at risk the security of energy supply in a given member state as well as in the EU," they said.

Also according to the EC's position the NS2 the pipeline is not in line with the policy objectives of the EU and could allow a single supplier to further strengthen its position. The EC, they said. has already indicated that were Gazprom to gain influence on the functioning of the transmission infrastructure, competition would suffer.

The Higher Regional Court in Dusseldorf will decide on the derogation case August 25. The Danish government took a long time to grant approval for the pipeline's construction in its waters and this forced the operator to find alternative routes than the one followed by Nord Stream 1.