Poland defeats Russian Gazprom in EU court

The Court of Justice of the EU has ruled in favour of Poland and Poland’s oil and gas giant on the OPAL gas pipeline. Russian gas giant Gazprom cannot use more than 50 percent of the German pipeline, as that could harm the interests of Poland and Ukraine.

In October 2016, the European Commission (EC) agreed for greater exploitation of the land extension of the Nord Stream pipeline, which is situated longitudinally in eastern Germany, along the Polish-German border. Earlier, the Russian operator was allowed to use only 50 percent of the pipeline’s capacity. The EC decided Gazprom could use 80 percent of the pipeline’s capacity until 2033.

The Polish government and the Polish gas and oil giant PGNiG filed a lawsuit against the European Commission’s decision in December 2016 to the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU). Not long after the suit, the court suspended the implementation of the EC’s decision until a final ruling.

The ruling was delivered on Tuesday, upholding a 50 percent limit on the pipeline for Gazprom.

Any greater exploitation of the OPAL pipeline would cause higher levels of import of gas to Germany by the Nord Stream pipeline, which bypasses Poland and Ukraine. This could result in limiting gas supplies flowing through the two countries, and as a result, threaten especially Ukraine’s energy security.

The court ruling marks a welcome development for Poland’s long-running campaign for energy solidarity in the European Union. Poland is still determined to stop the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline that by-passes Poland and the Baltic states along the Baltic coastline. In recent years it has won a major ally in the United States for so doing. This court ruling on the OPAL pipe will embolden it further and stiffen its resolve.