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Ukraine hopes EU will not allow wider use of OPAL pipeline by Gazprom

KIEV, October 27. /TASS/. Ukraine hopes that the European Commission will not grant its permission to Russia’s Gazprom for a wider use of the OPAL pipeline for gas transit to Europe, otherwise Kiev up to $425 mln/year, Naftogaz of Ukraine said in a statement on Thursday.

Earlier this week media reported that the European Commission is contemplating an extension of Gazprom’s ability to use OPAL capacities.

The German pipeline was built in 2011. It is owned by Gazprom, Wintershall and E.On and connects the Russian Nord Stream pipeline with gas transmission systems of Central and Western Europe. Using OPAL implies gas transportation through the Nord Stream bypassing Ukraine, the company said.

"The Ukrainian side is hopeful that the decision of the European Commission regarding the usage of capacity of the OPAL pipeline in Germany will be fully in line with the EU energy regulations, including Article 36 of Directive 2009/73/EC concerning common rules for the internal market in natural gas, as well as the EU acquis on competition, which, inter alia, prohibits the behavior directed at the abuse of market dominance," the company said.

"Being a Contracting Party of the Energy Community, Ukraine expects that the European Commision’s decisions are fully coherent with the rules and principles of the Energy Community and are directed at achieving the organization’s fundamental goal to unite an energy independent Europe," Andrey Kobolyev, CEO of Naftogaz of Ukraine Kobolev, said as quoted by the company’s press service.

Kobolev believes that "the increase of capacity available to Gazprom in OPAL is likely to lead to an aggravation of the dependence of a number of EU countries from the Russian monopoly supplier. It will also support Russia’s plans to destroy Ukraine’s gas transmission system as a competitor in the delivery of gas to the EU consumers."

According to the Ukrainian company, "if additional 30% of OPAL capacity is made available to Gazprom, the transit volumes are expected to shrink by 10-11 bln cubic meters a year resulting in lost revenues for Naftogaz of $290-320 mln (based on the old tariffs). Should Gazprom get access to additional 40% of OPAL capacity, the transit volumes will drop by 13.5-14.5 bln cubic meters a year with Naftogaz’ transit revenues decreasing by $395-425 mln annually."

At present, under the decision of the German regulator approved by the EC, Gazprom may use only 50% of OPAL’s capacity. The pipeline’s full capacity is 36 bln cubic meters a year. The remaining 50% of the pipeline are not use by Russia and reserved for the use by other operators.