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Energy minister calls possible EC mandate for Nord Stream 2 talks 'undesirable precedent'

The Russian side fully adheres to provisions of current laws during the pipeline construction

MOSCOW, September 27. /TASS/. A mandate the European Commission can be provided with for talks with Russia on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project may be an undesirable precedent, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Wednesday in an interview with Austria’s Die Presse newspaper.

"It would be unprecedented. No precedent exists. It is unclear what the future outcome of such precedent can be. What is a company wants to build a refinery? Will it suddenly need an EC mandate? Consider an industrial company [for example]. This is something fundamental and the essence is unclear in broad terms," Novak said.

This issue is still under consideration but no decision has been taken yet, the minister said. "We hope he [EC Vice President Maro· ·ef·ovi· - TASS] will come to the Russian Energy Forum in early October. We will meet if his working plan permits to do so. No official confirmation has been received yet but we invited him," the Russian minister said.

Current laws are fairly sufficient in terms of gas infrastructure expansion, Novak said. "The Nord Stream 2 project is implemented by commercial companies. Investments are undertaken by European companies and Gazprom. Everything is governed by European laws. We do not understand from the legal standpoint, why this mandate is needed," he said.

The Russian side fully adheres to provisions of current laws during the pipeline construction, Novak said. "There are no regulations of the Third Energy Package for the offshore section because this is not the EU territory and all energy package requirements are met at the onshore sections. Investors and participating companies simply want their investments to be paid back," Novak said.

The project is attractive in economic terms, as proved by efficiency of the Nord Stream 1, the minister added. "The route to the consumer is short and the cost is twice lower. It is unclear why some third countries suddenly prohibit things beneficial for Europe. We believe restrictions aimed at preventing competition in the first instance. They are aimed against Europe that is losing its independence and an opportunity to make a choice in energy projects, rather than against Russia. All market principles are abandoned in this regard. The US LNG is currently 70% more expensive than pipeline gas," Novak said.

The European Commission requested a mandate for talks with Russia on construction of the Nord Stream 2 project on June 9. The EC presented its mandate to the EU Council of Ministers on June 26 and a pause was taken for its consideration later.