Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Nord Stream 2: Gazprom's options after denial of exemptions by BNetzA

An interesting analysis of the options left to Gazprom after it is clear that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline will have to comply with the EU-gas-directive:

"Germany’s regulatory office Bundesnetzagentur announced it decided not to award derogation to Nord Stream 2, a gas pipeline connecting Germany and Russia, from the amended EU Gas Directive. According to the law, gas pipelines from outside of the EU that were not completed before 23 May 2019 need to have an independent operator, independently set tariffs and provide access to third parties. Gazprom, which owns the operator of the NS2 project, tried to argue that investment decisions about the pipeline had been made before 23 May last year, which meant the project had been somehow completed from the point of view of financing. Germany decided the gas pipeline had not been finished, which, by the way, was in line with common sense because a gas pipeline that does not connect point A to B cannot transmit gas, and Nord Stream’s Danish section is still under construction and is waiting for a permit from the Danish Energy Agency. The wait may be long, as the Agency had already delayed the project in the past when it took its time to make a previous decision. However, Russia may question the BnetzA ruling in court, similarly to what Poland’s PGNiG wanted to do if the decision had been in favor of Nord Stream 2. The court case may take place while the gas pipeline is allowed to operate, or not. This remains to be seen.
BnetzA’s decision means Nord Stream 2 AG will have to implement EU regulations with regard to the disputed pipeline. This is a hard nut to crack for Gazprom and a conflict between Russian and EU law. Russia granted Gazprom legal exclusivity over gas exports via gas pipelines, including Nord Stream 2, so it does not offer access to its pipelines to third parties. Additionally, Gazprom owns NS2 AG and is the pipe’s only gas provider, which means it would be responsible for setting tariffs. This goes against ownership unbundling required by the EU law.
Now Gazprom may either sell the pipeline, or hand over its operation to an “independent” company, that would guarantee fair transmission tariffs. Since Nord Stream 2 AG has a full share ownership it is not allowed to be the operator, but it remains to be seen whether this role could be played by a daughter company of the giant from Petersburg, which would hold a minority share. Perhaps the Russian-German company Gascade could become the pipe’s operator. Gascade is a joint venture of Gazprom and BASF that operates gas pipelines in east Germany, including OPAL, which is an onshore extension of Nord Stream, and EUGAL (in construction), an onshore leg of Nord Stream 2."

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:


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