German court rules Nord Stream 2 to obey EU laws

Photo: EPA

The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline must obey the EU regulations with no exemptions, a German court ruled. The specific EU regulations require that the owners and operators of the pipeline must offer a certain part of total volume to parties different from the suppliers of the gas that flows in them to ensure fair competition. The ruling emphasizes that there should be no exempt from EU, Reuters elaborated.

The Duesseldorf Higher Regional Court dismissed a challenge filed in 2020 by the operators of the Gazprom supported project to carry gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea. They argued the rules were discriminatory. The court did not immediately explain its ruling, which can be appealed. Still under the ruling now Gazprom will be forced to auction pipeline capacity, which could delay deliveries. EU rules require the companies that produce, transport and distribute gas within the bloc to be separate, or "unbundled". They aim to ensure fair competition in the market and to prevent companies from possibly obstructing competitors' access to infrastructure. This means that the company transporting the gas must auction its capacity to third parties.

The Nord Stream 2 operator claimed that the rules were aimed at halting the pipeline. The project is strongly opposed by many European governments, some of whom see it as a Russian state venture designed to increase the EU's dependence on Russian gas. Nord Stream 2 said the German court's decision highlighted the "discriminatory effect" of the EU amended Gas Directive. The rules will cost Nord Stream 2 additional time and money but will not stop its completion.

Russia stated that the court ruling was a "corporative issue", adding that the consortium should take care of it itself. "We can only reiterate... that the Nord Stream 2 is a purely commercial project aimed at significantly strengthening European energy security," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. The $11 billion project, with a transport capacity of 55 billion cubic metres, has faced political opposition from Washington as well as from Ukraine and Poland, which stand to lose out on lucrative transit business if the pipeline goes into operation.

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