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EU mulls OPAL gas pipeline options for Gazprom, independent suppliers

September 18, 2014, 14:13 UTC+3 BERLIN
The options are intended to ensure reliable energy supplies and participation in auctions for the sale of the OPAL gas pipeline capacities amid the continued crisis in Ukraine
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© EPA/UWE ZUCCHI

BERLIN, September 18. /ITAR-TASS/. The European Commission is studying options for Russian energy giant Gazprom and independent suppliers for access to Germany’s OPAL gas pipeline based on the Third Energy Package rules, German Federal Network Grid Agency spokeswoman Jennifer Rendla said on Thursday.

The options are intended “to ensure reliable energy supplies and participation in auctions for the sale of the OPAL gas pipeline capacities” amid the continued crisis in Ukraine, the main transit route for Russian natural deliveries to Europe, Rendla said.

OPAL gas pipeline and the Third Energy Package

The OPAL gas pipeline, which has an annual capacity of 36 billion cubic meters and runs along Germany’s eastern border, provides a link from Russia’s Nord Stream gas pipe running under the Baltic Sea to Europe’s existing gas transport networks. The OPAL pipeline pumps Russian natural gas across Germany and farther to the Czech Republic.

Under the rules of the Third Energy Package, Gazprom is required to reserve up to 50% of the OPAL gas pipeline’s capacities for gas transportation by independent gas suppliers.

Gazprom turned to the European Commission in late 2013 with a request to exclude the OPAL gas pipeline from the rules of the Third Energy Package, which requires the separation of gas production, transportation and sale to prevent gas suppliers from dominating the infrastructure.

The German Economy Ministry has insisted on providing full access for Gazprom to the OPAL pipeline over the threat of interruptions in Russia’s natural gas transit via Ukraine.

However, the EU has postponed until late October a decision on providing full access for Gazprom to the OPAL gas pipeline.

Infographics Russian gas in Europe Russian gas in Europe
One-third of gas consumed in EU comes from Russia. Infographics ITAR-TASS
The German Federal Network Agency spokesman said that given the European Commission’s consent and in compliance with the agreement on the OPAL gas pipeline, Gazprom will get exclusive access to 50% of the pipeline’s capacities in the future while the remaining 50% will be distributed at market auctions through the company Prisma Primary set up to operate the primary capacity platform for the reservation of Europe’s gas transportation capacities.

“Therefore, the current rule [the admission of independent suppliers to the gas pipeline] is substantiated by the existing competition on the Czech market,” the German Federal Network Agency spokeswoman said.

“If the European Commission approves the agreement, then 50% [of the capacities] will be offered to free market participation through auctions,” the spokeswoman said.

“A positive decision by the European Commission could strengthen the European internal market because in this case 50% of the gas pipeline’s capacities sold at auctions could be used by all bidders,” Rendla said.

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