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EU Court Says Russia Should Limit Gas Supply To Europe

The Court of Justice of the European Union upheld on Thursday a lower tribunal's ruling which had said that Russia's access to the OPAL gas pipeline should be limited.

The court case is a win for Poland against an appeal of the lower court's ruling filed by Germany.

The OPAL pipeline, operated by OPAL Gastransport, is a 470-kilometer (292 miles) long pipeline, which links the operational Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline of Russian gas giant Gazprom to Germany.

The European Commission (EC) granted in 2016 an exemption to the OPAL operator from EU energy solidarity regulations, meaning that Gazprom could use OPAL to ship natural gas at almost full capacity of the pipeline.

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), based in Luxembourg, annulled in 2019 the 2016 decision that allowed Gazprom to increase gas shipments through the OPAL pipeline.

Germany appealed at the Court of Justice of the European Union and lost the case, after the court sided with Poland on Thursday.

According to today's court decision, which is final, the EU must take into account the concerns expressed by Poland, as well as Lithuania, about the rising Russian supply to Europe, because the exemption of Gazprom from EU energy legislation was "in breach of the principle of energy solidarity."

According to Reuters, today's ruling is not expected to significantly change Gazprom's gas deliveries via OPAL, as they had already been reduced before the court case.

Poland's gas company PGNiG said, commenting on the ruling:

"The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that the European Commission violated the principle of energy solidarity by issuing a decision on the OPAL gas pipeline. The verdict strengthens Poland's energy security and may be important for the further fate of the Nord Stream 2 project."

Poland is one of the most vocal opponents to the Gazprom-led Nord Stream 2 project from Russia to Germany, concerned about Russia using gas sales and its gas monopoly Gazprom as a political tool. Poland, several other EU countries, and the United States see Nord Stream 2 as further undermining Europe's energy security by giving Gazprom another pipeline to ship its natural gas to European markets.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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