YAKUTSK, September 01. /ITAR-TASS/. The European Commission (EC) will say whether it is possible to load the OPAL pipeline fully by September 15, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said in a news conference Monday, following an August 29 discussion with EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger.
“At the last meeting, we discussed the full loading of the OPAL pipeline, giving the full capacities. It will improve the situation with living through the autumn-winter period, will give more opportunities to supply gas bypassing Ukraine’s transit risks…Oettinger has promised us to make a decision by September 15. There is no reason not to do it,” Novak said.
The OPAL, whose capacity amounts 36 billion cubic meters, is plugged into Russia’s Nord Stream undersea export pipeline and stretches along Germany’s eastern border. Under the EU’s third energy package, Russian gas giant Gazprom is limited to use only 50% of its capacities.
But the only filler of the OPAL pipeline is the Nord Stream, and to avoid financial losses, Russia and Germany urged the European Commission to exempt OPAL from the Third Energy Package legislation. The commission decided to hold an auction in July for the remaining 50% of the pipeline’s capacities to remove the OPAL from the package by imposing a so-called partial regulation, but the auction was cancelled.