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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Warsaw made a strong move against the Nord stream – 2″


Polish regulator refused to agree to the construction of “Nord stream – 2, although the German regulator has already given the project the nod. This is a purely political decision of the Polish authorities, which is contrary to the economic interests of local businesses. Whether Warsaw put an end to the Russian project?

Poland opposed the establishment of Gazprom and its European partners of the joint venture for the construction of the pipeline “Nord stream – 2”, said the Polish Antimonopoly regulator UOKiK.

“The Polish state in the face of the local regulator to make policy decisions contrary to the logic of your own business”

“UOKiK object to the establishment with the participation of six companies joint venture for the construction of the Nord stream – 2”, – stated in the message controller. The company can appeal the regulator’s decision within 14 days, the report said. This period may be extended for another 14 days.

Gazprom, OMV, Shell, Uniper, ENGIE and Wintershall – partners in construction of the pipe – have issued a joint statement that they are preparing a response to the Polish regulator.

The Polish regulator has explained its position as follows. He analyzed the data of the company Gaz-System (the operator of the gas transportation system of Poland), Europol Gaz (the operator of the gas pipeline “Yamal – Europe”), an oil and gas company PGNIG, and the operator of the construction of the LNG terminal in świnoujście and more than 20 importers of natural gas.

And UOKiK conducted analysis showed that the implementation of the project “Northern stream – 2 can lead to restriction of competition. “At the moment, Gazprom has a dominant position in gas supplies on the Polish market, and the deal could lead to further strengthening of its positions”, – said the Polish Department. Thus, poles have not agreed on creation of joint venture Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline “Nord stream – 2”.

Shareholders Nord Stream 2 AG are Gazprom (50%) and five European companies – BASF, ENGIE, OMV, Shell, Uniper – each 10% in the JV. Repurchase the shares of shareholders in Nord stream – 2″ is expected this summer.

In December 2015 two bids were submitted for the approval of the joint venture – the German and Polish regulators. The Germans approved it 18 days later, but the poles began to tighten the decision and change the date. In the end, Warsaw extended the deadline of the application until the summer to “study the effect of the transaction on the Polish gas market, including to explore the participants ‘views and the regulator of the gas market”.

Literally four days ago, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Gazprom Viktor Zubkov said that the Polish regulator had to answer on 18 July (local legislation).

“But, unfortunately, we have not received permission, and has received six additional requests, to which we must respond. Some of them have nothing to do with the Nord stream – 2″, and for the other”, – said Zubkov. “But we respond to these requests, and thus shifted the receipt of the documents by August 31,” he said. Faster decision-making poles in some way is a surprise.

The head of the Board of Directors of Gazprom did not hide that the position of the Polish side a few politicized, but the work went on, and in Russia believed in the common sense of the Polish regulator.

Policy against business

However, a negative decision of the Polish regulator is difficult to name unexpected, given the Russophobic attitude of the political leadership of the country.

Experts of the newspaper VIEW suggests that Polish business is not against the Nord stream – 2″, because he could get cheaper natural gas. Just a month ago from two independent sources it became known that Warsaw made a bid to supply gas through this pipeline in the amount of 11 billion cubic meters. This was stated by member of the management Board of the German company Wintershall (“daughter” of BASF) Tis Thyssen and confirmed the Deputy Chairman of Gazprom Alexander Medvedev.

However, the political elite of Poland, configured against Russia, buried the idea. Already officially Warsaw hastened to deny this application for the purchase of Russian gas. A negative decision of the local regulator was the expected result.

Gazprom in their expectations for the outcome of the case is based on the logic of Polish business, who understands the statements of the authorities about failure after a few years on Russian gas is purely political, it is disadvantageous to the buyers that the LNG terminal in świnoujście does not reduce gas prices, says the CEO of the national energy security Fund Konstantin Simonov. “The LNG terminal in Poland will meet the same fate as the LNG terminal in Lithuania – that have forced the Polish business to force people to buy expensive LNG,” he says. Business that are unlikely to be happy.

But the Polish state, represented by the local regulator to make policy decisions contrary to the logic of their own business. Their answer puts an end to the desire of local businesses to buy cheaper gas via Nord stream – 2″. “In Poland, even the internal political competition, all stripped. There is only the domination of one political force with a clear position on Russia”, – said Simonov.

“Here in Germany the role of business is much more significant. Even in a situation where Merkel herself is afraid of Putin and in the Wake with the Obama policy, it cannot ignore the opinion of the German business, which from morning till night says what you are doing, because Russia offers the project of creating in Germany a key hub, we are strongly braced and political influence, not to mention the fact that we will earn money” – compares Simonov.

Consequences for the Russian tubes

Meanwhile, put the cross is not the project “Northern stream 2 yet, although it is possible that its implementation will be delayed because of the position of Poland, according to the Professor of the higher school of Ranepa, senior researcher of the sector of the energy policy Institute of Economics of RAS Ivan Kapitonov. However, it’s not so bad. “Given that we were going to abandon the Ukrainian transit in 2019, the postponement of the construction of the Nord stream – 2″ is not so critical. The time is. The year,” says Kapitonov.

In his opinion, Russia needs to put this issue on pause, a compromise needs to be found within Europe itself. After all, it is in the EU there is controversy regarding the Nord stream – 2″. “The countries founders of the EU is beneficial to the construction of “Nord stream – 2, and the number of countries that have joined the Union during its expansion, oppose the project. Let them sort this out among themselves, and then we will make a decision. We don’t need to hurry”, – says Ivan Kapitonov.

To pacify Poland – in the interests of Germany, which benefits greatly from the implementation of Gazprom’s project. However, the compromise is likely to be sought not in the sphere of energy, because here Berlin is nothing particular to offer Warsaw. Cheap gas can offer only Gazprom, but Poland refuses.

The problem with Poland is that it is not a question of money, but only in politics, adds Simon. For example, with Slovakia, which at first also was against the Nord stream – 2, Gazprom managed to negotiate commercial deals.

Gazprom agreed to use the Slovak Eustream network in the framework of the Nord stream – 2″, that is keep the transit of Russian gas through Slovak territory, although it was not. To get into the Austrian hub Baumgarten Russian gas can without entering Slovak territory. This can be done through one of the Czech Republic, with which no problems. But Gazprom has made concessions and agreed to connect Slovakia to transit through the new Northern route.

Poland from any economically advantageous proposals of Gazprom refuses. Therefore, it is up to Germany. “There will be another subtle political game. Poland should be offered something else to Warsaw felt that she is on the safe side of the street” – says Ivan Kapitonov.

However, it is possible that in the end Poland will remain without the ability to buy cheaper Russian gas, and without any concessions from Germany.

Konstantin Simonov believes that the decision of the Polish regulator is generally not very important for the Nord stream – 2″. According to him, the disapproval of the Warsaw applies only to the extension pipe for the European territory, but the marine part of the Nord stream – 2″.

Marine approval is expected from the regulators of Finland, Denmark and Sweden, because it is through their territorial waters the pipeline. Poland to this part has no relation. Moreover, Warsaw is actually irrelevant to the laying of pipe on the European territory, as through it she will not go. Even removing Ukraine from the transit should not be disturbed Poland, because the transit through Polish territory is from Belarus, not Ukraine.

Interestingly, in most of the European Commission in February this year, also said that for the construction of the pipeline “Nord stream – 2 regulatory approvals from the Polish anti-monopoly regulator is not required, told RNS. A source in the Polish regulator noted that consideration of the case was the initiative of the Polish authorities.

Simonov does not rule out that Poland became a pawn in the political game. The European Commission opposed the “Nord stream – 2″, but the real argument for the ban of this pipe could not be found. After all, exactly the same project as the Nord stream – 1” Brussels earlier easily approved. Now the argument can be used against the decision of the Polish regulator.

“I don’t think this story will completely collapse of the Russian project. The main thing now – marine part of the tube, and there are no problems should not be”, – concluded Konstantin Simonov.

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