November 13, the German Bundestag adopted amendments to the EU gas directive regulating the activities of gas pipelines of third countries on the territory of the EU and, thus, which would be applied to the main competitor of the Ukrainian gas transportation system - Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline project. It comes to land precisely in Germany and, in fact, there is a pipe from Russia to this country; the norms voted by the Bundestag directly affect it.
Among the main provisions of the adopted legislation is the requirement to separate the companies supplying gas and the companies transporting it. It means that the company operating the Nord Stream 2 should be independent of Gazprom, and 50% of its capacity should be booked for alternative suppliers. So, these are limitations. But no matter how optimistic they look, there is bad news: in fact, the Bundestag legalized and, in a sense, even saved the Russian pipe.
From a controversial project, participation in which could threaten European companies with serious consequences (the Polish Antimonopoly Committee fined the French company Engie Energy, a partner company of the pipeline, for refusing to cooperate in the investigation of a case against him against the background of participation in the project), Nord Stream 2 is turning into a very respectable company, one of the pipelines that legally operate in accordance with European rules. Like, the requirements of the third energy package have already been applied to it, restrictions have been imposed, it has already been punished. And this is just bad news because the applied restrictions do not put an end to the project. Moreover, they allow it to work quietly, albeit with less power than previously planned.
Regarding the independence of the operator who should manage Nord Stream 2, it’s strange to imagine how it can be independent of Gazprom, given that only Russian gas can be supplied through the pipe and this state company has the exclusive right to export gas from Russia through pipelines. And given that in practice there is not a single gas-producing region along the pipeline route and, accordingly, a market player who might be interested in booking 50% of its capacity, in accordance with a decision made in Germany, this only means a decision fill it with gas half of the provided capacity. And this, perhaps, is the only plus for Ukraine: taking into account the TurkStream and other Gazprom bypass pipelines to Europe, at least 30 billion cubic meters should go for our gas transportation system, and the Russians will not be able to pump to Europe without the Ukrainian pipe.
If the decision to limit up to 50% of the Nord Stream-2 capacities had not been made at all, but the gas pipeline had been commissioned, Ukraine’s position in the negotiations on a new transit contract would have been much weaker. After all, the commissioning of the pipeline is planned for the first quarter of 2020.