Russian gas producer Gazprom appeals Nord Stream 2 fine

Author: Diane Pallardy

2020/11/06

LONDON (ICIS)--Russian producer Gazprom has appealed against Poland’s €6.5bn fine over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project. Two other investors involved in the project will also appeal, while the rest are considering the option.

Poland’s anti-monopoly authority (UOKiK) imposed fines on all six investors – Gazprom, French Engie, Austrian OMV, Anglo-Dutch Shell, German Uniper and Wintershall – for implementing the project without UOKiK’s consent, back in early October.

Gazprom appealed the decision at the Polish court. Uniper and OMV told ICIS they will also appeal UOKiK’s fine.

Both Engie’s Switzerland-based subsidiary - Engie Energy Management Holding Switzerland - and Shell strongly disagree with UOKiK’s decision and are considering the next steps, the companies told ICIS.

Wintershall has not appealed against the decision yet, but reserves the right to do it, the company said.

PROJECT BACKGROUND

Nord Stream 2 will have an annual capacity of 55 billion cubic meters (bcm), doubling Russia’s direct pipeline export capacity to Germany to 110bcm/year.

This is roughly half the volume Gazprom expects to deliver to Europe annually until 2030.

Poland has been a vocal opponent of the project, arguing it will increase reliance on Russian gas.

Russia has provided around 35% of EU gas supply since 2016, making it the bloc’s top supplier.

In April 2017 financing agreements were made on the €9.5bn project, with Gazprom providing €4.75bn and five EU-based investors contributing €950m loans to Nord Stream 2 AG.

Gazprom is the sole stakeholder in the project.

UOKiK said: “By establishing a pledge on the stocks of Nord Stream 2, the financing parties became ‘quasi’ stockholders of that company [Nord Stream 2 AG] - in the event of its default under the loan agreement, they would be entitled to take over the stocks of the company constructing the gas pipeline.”

Uniper told ICIS: “Financing agreements do not constitute a notifiable concentration under Polish merger control law and there is no such precedent in the previous practice of competition authorities, including UOKiK.”