UPDATE 2: EU court cancels Gazprom’s access to 100% of OPAL
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WARSAW, Sep 10 (PRIME) -- The E.U. Court of Justice has made a decision to cancel a previous ruling of the European Commission that allowed access of Russian gas giant Gazprom to 100% of the OPAL natural gas pipeline’s capacities, the court said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The General Court annuls the Commission decision approving the modification of the exemption regime for the operation of the OPAL gas pipeline…That decision was adopted in breach of the principle of energy solidarity,” the court said.
In separate statements, Poland’s Ministry of Energy said that the court’s decision was favorable to Poland, while Minister Krzysztof Tchorzewski said that the move destroys Gazprom’s monopoly in Europe and that it is important in light of the upcoming expiration of the company’s gas transit contract with Ukraine.
Gazprom will have to reduce exploitation of the Nord Stream pipeline, which will make it unlikely for the company to reject the transit through Ukraine, Tchorzewski said.
CEO of Polish oil and gas company PGNiG Piotr Wozniak said in a news conference that the court’s decision could improve the negotiating position of Kiev in its gas dispute with Moscow. The Russian gas transit through Ukraine should rise by at least 12.5 billion cubic meters per year, he added.
Under the third energy package, Gazprom has access to half of the OPAL capacities, or to 12.8 billion cubic meters. The European Commission decided in October 2016 that Gazprom will retain its right to use half of the pipeline’s capacity and will be given admission to auctions for another 40%. PGNiG challenged the decision in December of the year saying it is a threat to safety of gas supplies to the E.U.