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EU Court of Justice suspends execution of EC’s decision on OPAL gas pipeline

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World Pipelines,

EU Court of Justice recognises the legitimacy of the Polish company PGNiG's complaint and suspends the execution of the EC's decision of 28 October 2016 with respect to the OPAL gas pipeline.

On 23 December 2016, the EU Court of Justice issued a decision to suspend execution of the EC's decision of 28 October 2016. The decision allowed Gazprom to access 80 - 90% of the OPAL pipeline's transmission capacity. The request to suspend the execution of the EC's decision was submitted by PGNiG Supply and Trading GmbH on 4 December 2016 and the Government of the Republic of Poland on 16 December 2016.

In its complaint, PGNiG Supply and Trading GmbH indicated the non-compliance of the EC decision with the regulations of the Treaty on the European Union, the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and the EU - Ukraine Association Agreement. Moreover, it indicated infringement of a number of provisions of Directive 2009/73/EC concerning common rules of the EU's gas market. In consequence the EC’s decision on the extension of Gazprom’s access to the OPAL pipeline will have serious and negative impact on the security, stability and competitiveness of gas supplies to Poland.

The EU Court of Justice decided that the arguments put forward by PGNiG Supply and Trading were valid and suspended the execution of the European Commission's decision. The Commission was obligated to present detailed explanations with respect to the proposed procedure of capacity allocation on the OPAL pipeline. The Court also asked PGNiG Supply and Trading to submit an in-depth analysis of the EC decision's impact on the security and competitiveness of gas supplies to Poland.

According to INTERFAKS agency, on 26 December 2016 Gazprom increased its use of OPAL capacity to 81%. Such action breach the European Commission's Ruling of 2009, currently in force, with respect to the exclusion of the OPAL gas pipeline from the application of Third Party Access. Furthermore, it breaches the Court's decision of 23 December 2016, which effectively suspends the execution of the EC's decision of 28 October 2016 that allowed Gazprom to use additional transmission capacity on the OPAL pipeline.

Gazprom, by using faits accomplis, is striving for complete dominance on the German, and subsequently Central European, gas market, as well as the termination of gas transit through Ukraine. Companies from our region, including PGNiG S.A., expect that the European Commission will protect them from any Gazprom’s violation of the rules of competition and the third energy package regulations. However, the Commission has been constantly refusing to publish the OPAL decision for the past two months. It isn't proper that in the EU, in the 21st century, gas consumers must pursue their rights on the basis of shreds of information from European Commission's press releases. The decision of the EU's Court of Justice proves that neither Gazprom nor the Commission can act aside from the regulations on transparency and competition on the EU's internal market. PGNiG S.A. will undertake any measures available to ensure stability and security of gas supplies to Polish consumers, even if it means a conflict with the EU institutions - emphasises Piotr Wozniak President of the Board at PGNiG S.A.

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