Transport capacities of OPAL pipeline will be restricted from September 14 – operator

TASS Russian News Agency | Sep 13, 2019 at 2:39 PM

BERLIN, September 13. /TASS/. OPAL Gastransport GmbH, the operator of OPAL pipeline, has initiated necessary measures to comply with the decree of Germany's Federal Network Agency to restrict the usage of the pipeline's transit capacities, the operator said in a press release on its website on Friday.

These measures also imply that the usage of the pipeline will be restricted for Russian gas giant Gazprom.

On September 10, on considering Poland's lawsuit, the EU Court of Justice overturned the European Commission's decision of 2016, according to which Gazprom could fully use the capacities of the OPAL gas pipeline. The Russian company reserves the right to use 50% of OPAL's capacity, but it will no longer be able to participate in auctions for the remaining 40%.

"According to the decree of the German regulatory authority Bundesnetzagentur (Federal Network Agency) dated 13 September 2019 OPAL Gastransport GmbH & Co. KG is no longer allowed to market the partly regulated decoupled entry and exit connection capacities in the amount of 15.86 mln. kWh/h and to transport gas volumes through these capacities which are already booked," the operator said.

"OPAL Gastransport GmbH & Co. KG has initiated necessary measures to comply with the decree of Bundesnetzagentur and to respectively restrict the marketing and usage of partly regulated decoupled connection capacities as soon as possible. Therefore it will not be possible to book any partly regulated decoupled entry and exit connection capacities of OPAL Gastransport GmbH & Co. KG with immediate effect. "

"OPAL Gastransport GmbH & Co. KG will restrict the usage of partly regulated decoupled entry and exit connection capacities in close coordination with the up- and downstream transport system operators and with respect to the technical requirements as of 14 September 2019 06:00 a.m. CEST. 07:00 Moscow time - TASS)," the company said.

Earlier on Friday, the German regulator banned OPAL Gastransport from holding additional auctions on the gas pipeline's capacity.

About situation with OPAL pipeline

OPAL is a branch pipe connecting Nord Stream to the gas transmission system of Central and Western Europe. Its capacity is 36 billion cubic meters per year.

For several years, Russia could use only 50% of the pipeline's capacity, as prescribed in the EU's Third Energy Package. Gazprom asked for permission to use OPAL's 100% capacity, as the Russian holding company is the only gas supplier to the Nord Stream pipeline, which receives gas via OPAL. In autumn of 2016, the EC allowed Gazprom to participate in auctions for the right to use another 40% of Opal's transit capacities.

However, at the end of 2016, Poland appealed against this decision, claiming that it contradicts the principle of diversification of supplies. Poland also believes that the decision poses a threat of disruption or termination of supplies, since gas flows through the territory of Ukraine. In the summer of 2017, the Dusseldorf Higher Regional Court decided to remove interim measures on Gazprom's use of Opal's facilities imposed by the lawsuit. Poland finds that now the decision of the European Court of Justice will not allow Gazprom to abandon gas transit through the territory of Ukraine.