BRUSSELS, March 2. /TASS/. Russia and the European Commission agreed on Monday that Klaus-Dieter Borchardt, director for energy markets at the European Commission, will pay a visit to Moscow to discuss OPAL gas pipeline project among other issues, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said.
Novak met on Wednesday with Maros Sefcovic, a deputy head of the European Commission, ahead of trilateral talks in Brussels (Russia, Ukraine, EU) on the Russian natural gas supplies to Ukraine and Europe.
"We have agreed that Borchardt will come to Moscow with proposals on structural changes," Novak said. "On the whole we have a general understanding that it is necessary to resume energy dialogue and start detailed discussions."
Last December Novak announced that Russian energy giant Gazprom intended to reapply to the European Commission for using 100% of the capacities of the OPAL gas pipeline.
The European Commission announced in mid-December that it had terminated the procedure of exempting the OPAL gas pipeline from the Third Energy Package, which requires the separation of gas production, transportation and sale to prevent gas suppliers from dominating the infrastructure.
Also, Gazprom has not given its consent to extending the deadline for the terms of an agreement with Germany’s Federal Network Agency. As a result, major changes in exempting Gazprom from the Third Energy Package have become invalid.
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 and use 100% of the pipeline's capacities.
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.
Under the norms of Europe’s Third Energy Package, a part of the OPAL gas pipeline capacities must be reserved for independent suppliers. In practice, however, this reservation only limits Russian natural gas supplies to Europe via the Nord Stream gas pipeline, which is currently the most reliable transit route to Europe amid the existing risks of gas supplies across Ukraine.