28th October 2016 | Posted by: Daniel Birkett | Industry News

Sources at the international news agency, Reuters  claim that the EU is willing to lift the cap on Gazprom's use of the Nord Stream pipeline.

A cap on Gazprom's use of the Nord Stream pipeline could be lifted by the European Commission, allowing the Russian firm to bypass its current route though Ukraine and double its output to Europe.

A decision on the OPAL pipeline, which would provide Russia with a land link to Germany and the Czech Republic via Nord Stream was expected to be made today. The move would be a controversial one due to recent disputes and concerns between some EU nations and Russia, but would help to ease supply fears on the continent.

The OPAL pipeline was completed in 2011 with Gazprom given 50% access to its 36 billion cubic meters of annual capacity as a result of an EU ruling which aimed to prevent suppliers from monopolising infrastructure.

Gazprom, which is owned by the Russian state would still hold its 50% access to the pipeline but will also be allowed to bid for a further 30-40% at auction, enabling the firm to transport more supply into Europe. At least 10% of the OPAL pipeline must be made available to other suppliers, as part of EU competition law.

If Gazprom is awarded increased access to OPAL, the European Commission would seek guarantees that the company would continue gas transit through Ukraine past the expiration of its current contract which ends in 2019.

European Energy Chief, Maros Sefcovic claimed yesterday that he was "making a maximum effort" to help Russia and Ukraine reach an agreement to ensure gas transit between the two countries without interruption this winter. He added: "So far we haven't been successful, but I plan to meet with the Russia partner soon."

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