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OMV CEO calls "incredible" OPAL gas pipeline blocked for political reasons

"It is incredible that due to political interests the pipeline is blocked," Rainer Seele told TASS. "Clearly, the facilities, which have attracted investments, should be used"

BERLIN, February 24. /TASS/. OMV's CEO Rainer Seele calls "incredible" the OPAL gas pipeline is blocked for political reasons.

"It is incredible that due to political interests the pipeline is blocked," he told TASS on Friday. "Clearly, the facilities, which have attracted investments, should be used."

Head of the Austrian group said he did not doubt a legal settlement is possible.

In early February, Polish energy company PGNiG said it was satisfied with reduction of gas shipments of Gazprom via OPAL pipeline. Talking to TASS correspondent PGNiG President Piotr Wozniak said: "The reduction of supplies of Russian gas via the Nord Stream and OPAL pipelines is good and predictable news." This means that the decision of the European court dated December 23, 2016 and verdict of the court of Dusseldorf dated December 30, 2016 came into effect, he stressed. This is another confirmation that our current actions related to the October decision of the European Commission (to exclude 50% OPAL capacities from the Third Energy Package - TASS) are well grounded and were very well prepared," Wozniak said.

"I must admit that we are satisfied with the fact that all parties involved decided to abide by the current court decisions," he said. "Such a move, at least to some extent, restores our faith in the power of law and order, which is valid with respect to all market participants," he added.

On February 1, an official with Gazprom said that the company had reduced gas shipments via the OPAL pipeline following cancellation of the auction in February by the decision of the European Court.

According to OPAL Gastransport GmbH, the pipeline’s operator, OPAL was loaded by almost 99% in late January but as of February 1 the charging dropped to 63.6%.

In October 2016, Gazprom managed to agree with the European Commission on using 100% of OPAL capacity. Before that, the Russian company was allowed to use it only by 50%.

However, PGNiG and the Polish government appealed against the decision of the European Commission to the European Court. As a result the decision to expand the access of Gazprom to OPAL pipeline was suspended.

In December 2016, Gazprom began to increase the pipeline throughput by purchasing capacities at auctions. The auction for gas shipments was held in January but the auction in February was cancelled due to the court’s ban.

Before that, the European Commission stated that its decision to allow Gazprom to use 100% of OPAL capacity was legitimate and in full compliance with the norms of the EU Third Energy Package.

In January, Gazprom Deputy CEO Alexander Medvedev said that Gazprom expects the European Court would not take provisional measures on Poland’s request regarding access to OPAL gas pipeline. At the same time he did not rule out that the company may take counter provisional measures.

Gazprom also asked to join it as a concerned party to the case on Polish PGNIG’s claim against the European Commission (EC) decision to expand Gazprom rights to fill the OPAL gas pipeline.

OPAL gas pipeline, located in Germany, is an onshore extension of the Nord Stream gas pipeline. Its construction was completed in 2011. The pipeline capacity is 36 bcm of gas per year. Gas is supplied over OPAL to Germany up to the border with the Czech Republic.