Ukrainian state-run energy company Naftogaz is planning to join the Polish gas company PGNiG in a court case questioning the European Union’s decision to provide the Russian oil giant Gazprom with more access to the Opal gas pipeline in Germany. Naftogaz said yesterday (2 March) that it had sought permission from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to intervene in the case started off by the state-controlled PGNiG at the end of last year.
Last fall, the European Commission decided to loosen a cap on Gazprom’s use of Opal, a natural gas pipeline alongside the German eastern border, which carries gas from the Nord Stream pipeline under the Baltic Sea. Warsaw said that the EU’s decision threatened gas supplies to Central and Eastern Europe as the Opal also carries gas to the Czech and Slovak Republics. Warsaw also claims that Gazprom’s dominant market position would be strengthened.
Naftogaz in the meantime commented on this development that “joining the case initiated by PGNiG will enable Naftogaz to present additional arguments and gain access to the case files. The request by Naftogaz is now awaiting consideration in the court”. The Ukrainian company also argued that the EU’s decision could destabilize gas supplies to Ukraine due to possible gas flow interruptions from Poland.
The ECJ has already suspended the executive’s decision on the pipeline and at the end of 2016 Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said that Poland and Ukraine would act together to block projects that could give Gazprom more access to the European energy market by bypassing Ukraine. Earlier this year, EU Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefcovic warned against over-simplifying the impact the use of the Opal pipeline could have on Gazprom.