EU court overrules EC's decision on Opal pipeline

Opal, which runs through Germany along Poland's western border, connects the Nord Stream I pipeline with the Yamal pipeline infrastructure and pipeline systems in the Czech Republic. Darek Delmanowicz/PAP

The Court of Justice of the European Union on Tuesday issued a favourable ruling for Poland by cancelling the EC decision to grant Gazprom 100 percent of the Opal pipeline's capacity.

The court's decision keeps Poland's and Ukraine's energy security at a high level, Energy Minister Krzysztof Tchórzewski wrote on Twitter adding that the ruling also diminishes the possibility of a serious energy crisis in Ukraine.

Opal, which runs through Germany along Poland's western border, connects the Nord Stream I pipeline with the Yamal pipeline infrastructure and pipeline systems in the Czech Republic. The pipeline's annual capacity reaches 36 billion cubic metres of gas.

Polish state-run gas company PGNiG has sued the European Commission over its decision to grant Russia's Gazprom more capacity on the Opal pipeline. In October 2016, the European Commission lifted a cap on Gazprom's use of the Opal pipeline, which carries gas from the Nord Stream pipeline under the Baltic Sea to customers in Germany and the Czech Republic.

The Polish Foreign Ministry commenting today's ruling said it is a great success for Poland and in the government's opinion will have a significant impact on competition in the gas market and on assuring the EU's energy security.

"The Court of the European Union shared the position of the Polish government and recognised that the contested (EC-PAP) decision was issued in violation of the principle of energy solidarity. According to the court, the EC has not examined what the medium-term effects may bring, especially for Poland's energy policy, by redirecting part of the natural gas supply from the Yamal and Brotherhood gas pipelines to the Nord Stream 1/Opal transit route," the Foreign Ministry wrote in statement.

Deputy Foreign Minister Konrad Szymański told PAP that the court agreed with Poland that Gazprom's domination of the Opal pipeline would mean a blow to the principles of safe deliveries, energy solidarity and competition on the gas market.