October 13, 2017 / 11:29 AM / 2 years ago

German pipeline Opal says Gazprom may continue with auctions

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Polish energy company PGniG (PGN.WA) and its German subsidiary have failed to win an injunction aimed at blocking Russia’s Gazprom (GAZP.MM) from increasing its use of the Opal pipeline in eastern Germany, the pipeline’s operator said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO - The logo of Russia's oil producer Gazprom Neft is seen on a board at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2017 (SPIEF 2017) in St. Petersburg, Russia, June 1, 2017. Picture taken June 1, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

A spokesman for the court, the Oberlandesgericht (OLG) Duesseldorf, declined to comment, but a spokeswoman for pipeline operator Opal Gastransport said: “I can confirm that these appeals were completely rejected and that Opal Gastransport can offer its capacity fully to the market.

Gazprom declined to comment on Friday.

The 36 billion cubic metre (bcm) per year Opal pipeline carries Russian gas arriving via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline across the Baltic Sea to continental European markets.

The gas goes into underground storage in northeastern Germany or travels down to the Czech Republic.

The Duesseldorf court in July ruled in favour of Gazprom after two Polish firms sought curbs on Gazprom’s Opal use citing competition grounds.

The court at that stage said it had found no evidence of serious harm for the plaintiffs. Final, wider rulings are due from the OLG Duesseldorf and the Luxembourg-based EU General Court likely in 2018 and 2019.

Poland is concerned about Russian plans to double its gas export capacity to Germany via its Nord Stream 2 project. Polish and Ukrainian authorities fear the move could reduce the amount of Russian gas transiting their countries.

The European Commission has also encouraged member states to curb their reliance on Russian energy in the wake of Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Opal offers monthly and annual capacities on the PRISMA capacity auction websites, where the names of bidders or the size of their allocations are not identified.

Reporting by Vera Eckert and Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Jason Neely

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