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EC to consider German project for OPAL pipeline by March 10

February 06, 2014, 13:31 UTC+3 6
OPAL is the land-based section of Nord Stream pipeline, located in Germany
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BRUSSELS, February 6. /ITAR-TASS/. The European Commission (EC) will make a final decision on making the spur pipeline of Nord Stream’s land-based section, OPAL, located in Germany, immune from the Third Energy Package by March 10, the EC press office told Itar-Tass.

According to the Third Energy Package’s gas directive, the EC is to consider the project of the German federal network agency, Bundesnetzagentur, within two months with a possibility of a two-month prolongation, if any necessary additional information emerges, said the spokeswoman of the EC’s energy directorate, Nicole Bockstaller.

Discussions followed the Russian monopoly Gazprom’s request filed late in 2013. Once Gazprom obtains the EC’s permission for 100% reservation of OPAL’s capacity, Nord Stream will be used at full capacity.

Bundesnetzagentur’s proposal in question is a compromise in what Gazprom can be allowed to partake in auctions selling 15.3-billion-cubic-meter capacity of OPAL gas transportation system, which would make the OPAL pipeline exempt from the Third Energy Package rules and introduce so-called partial regulation. Annual auctions are suggested to take place at the international platform PRISMA.

On the sidelines of the Davos Economic Forum on January 24 European Commissioner for Energy Gunther Oettinger said the EC was planning to make a positive decision in February, whereas the German regulator might make a decision in March. Following the Russia-EU summit in late January President Vladimir Putin said the two sides had agreed to use OPAL 100%.

Nord Stream, which land-based extension in Germany includes the two pipelines - NEL and OPAL, comprises two 1,224-kilometer lines with a throughput of 27.5 billion cubic meters of gas each. The pipeline will link the EU’s energy system with the major natural gas fields directly via the Baltic Sea. Both lines will be able to supply 55 billion cubic meters of gas annually for at least 50 years.

Nord Stream is held by Gazprom (51%), German companies Wintershall and E.ON Ruhgas (15.5% each) and Dutch Gasunie and French GDF SUEZ with 9% each.

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