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Operator restricts usage of OPAL pipeline’s capacities

Pumping via NEL pipeline is growing

BERLIN, September 14. /TASS/. OPAL Gastransport GmbH, operator of OPAL pipeline, has restricted the usage of the pipeline’s transit capacities, the operator said on Saturday.

"By 09:00 (10:00 Moscow time), gas supplies through the Greifswald point were reduced to 32.76 mln kW/h from approximately 44 mln kW/h the day before. At the same time, gas supplies from the Nord Stream pipeline via another gas pipeline, NEL, increased.

On September 10, on considering Poland’s lawsuit, the EU Court of Justice overturned the European Commission’s decision of 2016, according to which Russian gas giant Gazprom could fully use the capacities of the OPAL gas pipeline. The Russian company reserves the right to use 50% of OPAL’s capacity, but it will no longer be able to participate in auctions for the remaining 40%.

On September 12, OPAL Gastransport GmbH reported that it would "restrict the usage of partly regulated decoupled entry and exit connection capacities in close coordination with the up-and downstream transport system operators and with respect to the technical requirements as of 14 September 2019 06:00 a.m. CEST (07:00 Moscow time - TASS)."

About situation with OPAL pipeline

OPAL is a branch pipe connecting Nord Stream to the gas transmission system of Central and Western Europe. Its capacity is 36 billion cubic meters per year.

For several years, Russia could use only 50% of the pipeline’s capacity, as prescribed in the EU’s Third Energy Package. Gazprom asked for permission to use OPAL’s 100% capacity, as the Russian holding company is the only gas supplier to the Nord Stream pipeline, which receives gas via OPAL. In autumn of 2016, the EC allowed Gazprom to participate in auctions for the right to use another 40% of Opal's transit capacities.

However, at the end of 2016, Poland appealed against this decision, claiming that it contradicts the principle of diversification of supplies. Poland also believes that the decision poses a threat of disruption or termination of supplies, since gas flows through the territory of Ukraine. In the summer of 2017, the Dusseldorf Higher Regional Court decided to remove interim measures on Gazprom’s use of Opal’s facilities imposed by the lawsuit. Poland finds that now the decision of the European Court of Justice will not allow Gazprom to abandon gas transit through the territory of Ukraine.