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Gazprom gets access to OPAL pipeline

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World Pipelines,

A court in Dusseldorf, Germany, has lifted restrictions on Russian gas company Gazprom's access to the German Opal gas pipeline.

There is no reason to limit Russian gas exporter Gazprom’s access to the Opal gas pipeline, a German court ruled on Friday, rejecting a legal challenge from Polish firms.

Last October the EU Commission lifted a cap on Gazprom’s use of the Opal pipeline, which carries Russian gas to German and Czech customers.

Polish firms PGNiG and PGNiG Supply & Trading filed a legal challenge to that move, prompting the EU’s Luxembourg-based General Court to suspend the Commission’s decision in December.

In response, Opal cut flow by a third early this year from near maximum capacity. “The plaintiffs have not concretely proven that irreparable disadvantages arise from the capacity allocations (for Gazprom),” the Oberlandesgericht (OLG) Duesseldorf court ruled, its website showed.

Polish state-run gas firm PGNiG and PGNiG Supply & Trading had challenged the suspension of a cap on Gazprom's use, arguing that Gazprom's increased Opal transport would threaten Polish gas supply.

Like the EU Court, the Oberlandesgericht (OLG) Dusseldorf, which governs the supervision of activities on Opal by Germany's energy regulatory agency Bundesnetzagentur, said there was no evidence of serious harm for the plaintiffs until a final ruling was issued about the wider issues.

"The plaintiffs have not concretely proven that irreparable disadvantages arise from the capacity allocations (for Gazprom)," it said.

A spokeswoman for Opal in Germany said the company was due to issue a response later on Friday.

A spokeswoman for Opal said the company would issue a response on Friday. This could clarify when and to what extent Opal’s volumes will be increased. The Polish challenge was also rejected by the EU’s General Court earlier this month. It ruled that a European Commission deal giving Gazprom a bigger share of the Opal gas pipeline could go ahead until a wider ruling expected in 2019.

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