Polish state-controlled gas utility PGNiG claimed on October 26 that it is ready to sue the European Commission and Germany's energy regulator for their soft approach to Russian gas giant Gazprom
Poland and other CEE member states that rely on Russian gas have long claimed Gazprom abuses its dominant position in the region to push prices higher, insist on restrictive contracts, and exert political pressure. An EU anti-trust case launched in 2011 offered hope that the Russian company would be brought into line. However, it is reported that a settlement is on the way that will see little action from Brussels.
The Polish company is also angered a decision from the German energy regulator Bundesnetzagentur that will offer more capacity on the Opal pipeline, the link to the offshore Nord Stream carrying Russian gas directly to Germany. The restriction on Opal effectively limits the volumes flowing via the 63bn cubic metre pipeline.
Bundesnetzagentur has opened up to 80% of Opal pipeline capacity to Gazprom or its proxies. That will allow the Russian company to send 28bn cm of gas annually through Nord Stream, whereas previously the export volume was capped at 17.5bn cm.
“If no other entity purchases the remaining 20% of the pipeline’s capacity during auctions, Gazprom will be allowed to use that capacity for its own needs," the PGNiG statement complains. "Based on the current declarations by market participants it is clear that none of the European gas shippers is interested in using the additional transmission capacity."
The Polish company says the moves on both the anti-trust case and Opal constitute a breach of EU laws, and a threat to energy security. “These decisions pose a real threat to the stability of gas supplies to Central and Eastern Europe,” PGNiG warned.
If Gazprom can bring more gas directly to Germany, it will be able to stop transporting gas via the Yamal pipeline crossing Poland, and bypass Ukraine, without any consequences for West European markets, PGNiG warns. Gazprom is currently pushing plans to build Nord Stream 2, which has raised alarm in Poland and other CEE states.
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