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Russian energy minister skeptical about EC’s deciding on OPAL before yearend

November 07, 2014, 19:13 UTC+3 PERM
According to previous reports, the European Commission postponed the decision on OPAL till late January 2015, but in late October the commission said a decision was due in the nearest future
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Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak

© Ilya Pitalev/TASS

PERM, November 7. /TASS/. The European Commission (EC) is unlikely to take a decision on the OPAL gas pipeline before the end of 2014, Russian Minister of Energy Alexander Novak said on Friday.

“The decision was postponed, we have no idea when the European Commission gets back to this issue,” he said. “We hope that the new commission to begin to work from November will get back to it. I think, after all, European consumers are most interested in it, it is in the interests of European countries to make a wider use of the existing gas pipeline.”

According to previous reports, the European Commission postponed the decision on OPAL till late January 2015, but in late October the commission said a decision was due in the nearest future.

As of now, OPAL has no gas other than Russian gas supplied via the Nord Stream, Novak said. “Everything depends on the position of the European Commission. I am very skeptical about prospects of the European Commission’s arriving at a decision before the yearend,” he noted.

Earlier, a European source told TASS that the new deadline could be explained by the fact that this decision would be made by a new composition of the European Commission that started working on November 1. The source said that the decision of the European Commission “may be directly linked with the agreement on transit of natural gas via Ukraine to Europe in the winter” (reached on October 31). “If the talks had failed, the European Commission could have allowed the 100% pumping of gas through the Nord Stream and OPAL gas pipelines that would let the European Union receive a proper amount of gas, even if Ukraine would take gas from the pipeline system in its territory,” the Russian minister said then.

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 on the Baltic Sea bed to Europe’s existing gas transport networks. The OPAL pipeline pumps Russian natural gas across Germany and further to the Czech Republic.

Under the rules of the Third Energy Package, Russia’s gas giant 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.

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