Polish competition watchdog fines Gazprom, Nord Stream 2 companies

Poland's Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) has imposed an over PLN 29 billion (EUR 6.45 billion) fine on Russian gas giant Gazprom, and over PLN 234 million (EUR 52 million) on five other companies working on the Russian-German Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.

UOKiK said that the fines were connected with the companies' formation of a consortium to finance the Nord Stream 2 project despite failing permission, and recalled that charges in the matter were brought against Gazprom and the remaining units - Enga Energy, OMV, Shell, Uniper and Wintershell - two years ago.

UOKiK said that on the strength of a decision by its president, the mentioned companies were obliged to cease their financing of the Nord Stream 2 project.

Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski told PAP on Wednesday that the Polish side "possessed the tools" necessary to execute the fines. Jablonski called the Nord Stream 2 project politically motivated, and said that today it had more opponents than supporters.

Later on Wednesday Gazprom said it disagreed with UOKiK's decision and would appeal the fines. Russian authorities have said Gazprom will probably take legal steps in the matter.

Gazprom refuted the Polish authority's charges, explaining that Nord Stream 2 was not being built by a group comprising Gazprom and European companies, but by a Gazprom daughter company which was financing it from bank loans.

Gazprom spokesmen have called the fine amount "unprecedented," and said UOKiK's ruling "violated the principles of legality, proportionality and just proceeding." According to the company, the ruling was proof that "everything was being done to halt the Nord Stream 2 project."

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday that UOKiK's ruling would have to be "analysed from the legal point of view." Peskov said he had no doubts Gazprom will do "all it can and should in terms of a counter-move."

He added that the fine ruling will have no effect on Polish-Russian relations, and voiced regret that these relations "were not on a satisfactory level."

Nord Stream 2 is an under construction Russian-German gas pipeline along the Baltic bed, to connect Russia and Germany and bypass Eastern Europe. Poland and several other EU states oppose the undertaking, arguing that it could upset energy security in the EU.