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European Commission confirms OPAL pipeline exemption from Third Energy Package norms

October 28, 2016, 20:22 UTC+3

The European Commission extended Gazprom’s rights to load OPAL pipeline from 50 to 90%

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BRUSSELS, October 28. /TASS/. The European Commission (EC) approved exemption of 50% capacity of OPAL gas pipeline [onshore extension of Nord Stream gas pipeline - TASS] from norms of the Third Energy Package of the European Union, the EC said in its statement released today. This decision will make possible for Russian gas holding Gazprom to exclusively use 50% of gas pipeline capacity and independently buy quotas for 40% more from the operator.

According to the decision made by the EC, "the use of only 50 % of OPAL's capacity will be exempt from third party access rules and the operation of the other 50 % of the pipeline capacity will be covered by stringent EU market rules. These rules ensure transparent and non-discriminatory access to all gas companies."

The EC reserved the right to early reconsideration of the decision to exempt OPAL gas pipeline from Third Energy Package Norms, which increases Gazprom’s right to pump gas from 50 to 90% until 2033, a representative in EC energy directorate said on Friday.

"The decision may be reconsidered in case of presence of confirmed demand of independent companies for gas throughput via OPAL," the representative said.

This is the first case in the practice of granting exemption from energy norms of the European Union.

The decision of the EC provides Gazprom with a right to independently buy from OPAL operator 40 out of 50% capacity reserved for third party companies, a representative in EC energy directorate said. "The decision may be reconsidered in case of presence of confirmed demand of independent companies for gas throughput via OPAL," the representative said.

OPAL gas pipeline is located in Germany. Its construction was completed in 2011. The pipeline capacity is 36 bln cubic meters of gas per year. Gas is supplied over OPAL to Germany up to the border with the Czech Republic.

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