The Polish Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) on Wednesday announced that it had fined the partners of the Russian energy giant Gazprom about $60 million over the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline without the anti-monopoly watchdog's go-ahead.
UOKiK also slapped a $7.6-billion fine on Gazprom for building the Nord Stream 2.
"Pursuant to the decision of the President of UOKiK [Tomasz Chrostny], the entities concerned are obliged to terminate the agreements for financing Nord Stream 2 […]. The companies have thirty days, from receiving the decision, to terminate their contracts. If the decision is appealed against, the deadline expires 30 days from it becoming legally valid", UOKiK said in a press release.
Nord Stream 2 is a $10.5 billion joint venture between Russia's Gazprom, Germany's Uniper and Wintershall, Austria's OMV, France's Engie, and UK/Dutch energy conglomerate Royal Dutch Shell.
UOKiK Proceedings Against Gazprom
Wednesday's move by UOKiK comes after Chrostny in early June initiated proceedings against Gazprom for its "failure" to provide documents pertaining to the UOKiK's probe into the Nord Stream project.
Chrostny said that in light of this, "the [Russian] company is liable for a financial penalty of up to 50 million euros", irrespective of "any consequences that may arise from [the] proceedings", according to UOKiK's website.
UOKiK requested the documents in early February, with Jens D. Mueller, spokesman for the operator Nord Stream 2 AG, insisting at the time that the requests were irrelevant to the construction of the pipeline.
The UOKiK ban dates back to 2016, when it blocked the Nord Stream 2 project, citing an alleged threat that Poland's anti-trust laws were being violated.
The move came after Gazprom and five of its partners submitted applications to the UOKiK, asking it to grant permission for a joint venture. Although Nord Stream 2 does not run through Poland's economic zone, its permission was necessary due to EU legal issues. Despite the UOKiK ban, the companies proceeded with the project, which is operated by Nord Stream 2 AG, a subsidiary of Gazprom.
Russia Warns Not to Politicise Nord Stream 2 Project
When completed, the pipeline will be capable of transporting up to 55 billion cubic metres of gas per year from Russia to Germany, thereby doubling the capacity of the existing Nord Stream network and turning Germany into a gas hub.
Washington has repeatedly tried to persuade the EU to abandon the project, claiming the pipeline is aimed at making Europe dependent on Russian gas, among other things. Russia, in turn, has emphasised that Nord Stream 2 is a purely economic project that should not be politicised.