20 Feb 2019 16:36

Gazprom to comment on EU gas directive after it has been approved

MOSCOW. Feb 20 (Interfax) - Gazprom considers that it will be possible to comment on the European Union's new gas directive only after it has been approved.

"When it has been approved, that is when we'll comment on it," the Russian gas giant's CEO, Alexei Miller, told reporters.

Officials from EU governments and the European parliament have given the go-ahead for a review of gas market legislation, lowering obstacles for the Nord Stream 2 project.

The agreement reached in Strasbourg on Tuesday evening retains the proposal that resulted from a compromise between Germany and France and which provides relief for the Russian gas pipeline.

The draft directive is based on EU regulations that prevent suppliers from controlling pipelines and require that third-party access to pipelines is granted.

The plan put forward by France and Germany would not give Denmark the final say regarding Nord Stream 2 and grants the relevant powers primarily to Germany, which can request exceptions from EU requirements to open the market if this does not damage competition or supplies.

The Nord Stream 2 project operator has so far obtained national permits from all jurisdictions via which the pipeline from Russia to Germany will be routed, except Denmark.

A decision from Danish officials was expected back in April. In June, Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen called for taking the Nord Stream 2 project before the entire EU, saying Denmark alone could not resolve the problem, adding that he had introduced legislation in parliament that would enable inclusion of a foreign policy assessment and standardize the foreign policy process, in order to legally have the power to veto or delay the project. The issue needs to be brought to the "European table" for all European countries, he said.

The operator had submitted an application and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report to the Danish Energy Agency on an alternative route for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline through Denmark, passing to the northwest of Bornholm, inside the Danish exclusive economic zone (EEZ) but outside its territorial waters. But the operating company is not withdrawing from the ongoing procedure for the preferred route as applied for in April 2017 which is based on the guidance received from Danish authorities during the successful planning and construction of the existing Nord Stream Pipeline.

EU diplomats are due to discuss Tuesday's agreement at a meeting next week. Their support would pave the way for final approval at the level of EU governments and the European Parliament, which is usually a formality after the basic agreements have been reached.

The 1,224-kilometer Nord Stream twin pipeline system through the Baltic Sea stretches from Vyborg, Russia to Lubmin near Greifswald, Germany with capacity of 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year. Nord Stream 2 will double that capacity at a cost of 10 billion euros. Gazprom started to build it last year and aims to finish it before the end of this year.