Russia Will Be 'Better Off' Pumping Gas to EU Via Opal Pipeline

© Sputnik / Alexey Kudenko / Go to the photo bankBuilding gas pipeline. File photo
Building gas pipeline. File photo - Sputnik International
Russia’s Gazprom would be better off pumping its gas to Europe through the Opal pipeline rather than via Ukraine, energy expert Alexei Grivach told Sputnik.

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Gazprom is sending gas through the Nord Stream pipeline, which runs along the Baltic Sea bed and links up with Opal in Germany.

After a German court lifted provisional curbs, which limited Gazprom’s access to the Opal gas pipeline, Gazprom ramped up its daily throughput to 72.5 million cubic meters in a single day. Simultaneously, Gazprom slashed the volume of gas supplies to Slovakia across Ukrainian territory.

“What we are talking about is not Slovakia, of course, but the Baumgarten hub in Austria, which is of key importance to Southeast and Central Europe. We can send our gas there both via Ukraine and the Nord Stream pipeline and the cheaper the cost of such transit via a give route, the greater the volume,” Grivach said.

“Moreover, since Gazprom and Germany’s Wintershall both invested in the construction of Opal, Gazprom will thus have a share of the transit cost,” he added.

Court and Opal

The Opal pipeline is not working at full capacity as a result of regulatory restrictions imposed by the EU.

In October 2016, the European Commission approved a deal between Germany’s energy regulator and Gazprom giving the Russian company access to more than 50 percent share of Opal’s transit capacity of 12.8 billion cubic meters. The commission then also allowed Gazprom to participate in monthly auctions for an additional 40 percent of the pipeline’s capacity (10.2 billion cubic meters).

The Ukrainian and Polish presidents then issued a joint statement warning that the European Commission’s decisions could hamper the flow of natural gas been their two countries.

In December 2016, the Polish government and PGNiG, the state-run oil and gas company, appealed the decision of the European Commission to the European Court, arguing that it violated the principle of diversification of gas supplies.

Pipes of the German-Russian Nordstream gas pipeline are seen at the Baltic Sea coast in Lubmin, northern Germany - Sputnik International
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As a result, the court suspended Gazprom’s access to the Opal pipeline.

It wasn’t until last week that the provisional ban on Gazprom’s access to the pipeline’s additional capacities was finally lifted.

Located in Germany, the Opal gas pipeline is an onshore extension of the Nord Stream gas pipeline. Its construction was completed in 2011. The pipeline capacity is 36 billion cubic meters of gas a year.

It is used to supply natural gas from Russia to Germany up to the border with the Czech Republic.

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