BERLIN, April 13. /TASS/. Russia resumed talks on the Opal pipeline status, Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Monday.
"In fact, we’re carrying talks over again, from the position stated back in October 2013. In March, Gazprom applied to the German regulator on receiving 100-percent access to Opal," Novak said.
As TASS reported earlier with reference to Novak Gazprom will over again undergo the procedure of receiving the European Commission (EC) permit for using 100% of the capacities of the Opal gas pipeline. "We will undergo the whole procedure all over again with the new composition of the EC," the minister said.
The European Commission announced in mid-December 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 did not give its consent to extending the deadline for the terms of an agreement with Germany’s Federal Network Agency. As a result, some major changes in exempting Gazprom from the Third Energy Package became invalid. The European Commission thus reported to the Federal Network Agency on Opal procedure cease. "The initial agreement (on providing access to 50% of capacities — TASS) remained in force, including additional conditions requested by the EC on 2009 procedure. Any new agreement (with the agency — TASS) should be brought to the notice of the European Commission under a new procedure in accordance with Article 36 of Gas Directive (part of the Third Energy Package — TASS)," a source in the EC told TASS.
Earlier Gazprom said the company would claim 100% of Opal capacities but not under an agreement with the European Union Commission that was supposed to have established a new scheme of tariff regulation. "We refused to wait until the European Union Commission approves our agreement with the German Federal Agency. But they are drawing an absolutely wrong conclusion. We are now going to claim 100% while the previously signed agreement with the Germans which has not been approved by the European Union Commission contained a ‘compromise’ scheme," Gazprom’s spokesperson Sergey Kupriyanov told TASS. The compromise scheme was proposed by the German regulator and allowed Gazprom reserving more than 50% of the Opal gas pipeline’s capacities.
Gazprom expected the EC decision on access to Opal capacities during 2014. In late 2013, Gazprom applied to the EC with a request on freeing Opal from obligations under the Third Energy Package. 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.
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.