Poland’s Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) has requested that the Russian energy giant Gazprom provide information relevant to its investigation of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, Sputnik has learned after obtaining a memorandum from the company.
According to Gazprom, the request from UOKiK was received on 15 January 2020. In November 2019, Poland’s antitrust authority fined the French company Engie, which is participating in the project, for failing to provide similar documentation, resulting in in a 40.3 million euro penalty.
According to Jens D. Mueller, the spokesman for the Nord Stream 2 AG operator, the Polish authority’s requests urging Gazprom to provide it with documents were irrelevant to the construction of the pipeline.
What’s Behind Poland’s Request?
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline will deliver Russian gas to Europe, carrying up to 55 billion cubic metres of gas per year from Russia to Germany and Central Europe, bypassing traditional transit countries such as Ukraine, Belarus, and Poland.
In 2016, Gazprom and five of its partners, France's Engie, Austria's OMV, the UK-Dutch company Royal Dutch Shell, as well as Germany's Uniper and Wintershall, submitted an application to UOKiK, asking for 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. UOKiK blocked the project, explaining that its decision was due to an alleged threat of the country’s anti-trust laws being violated.
The companies nonetheless proceeded with the project, which is operated by Nord Stream 2 AG, a wholly owned subsidiary of Gazprom.
In May 2018, UOKiK announced the start of an investigation against the investors in Nord Stream 2, accusing the companies of breaching its previous ban on the construction of the pipeline. Poland has publicly voiced its opposition to the project, which has also been repeatedly denounced and threatened with sanctions by the United States.