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Parliamentary questions
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3 March 2017
Answer given by Mr Arias Cañete on behalf of the Commission
Question reference: E-009261/2016

The Commission was notified of changes to the existing exemption decision for the OPAL pipeline by the German regulatory authority. After a thorough analysis of the notified changes under the Gas Directive, the Commission took a decision requiring additional conditions.

The new decision provides improved access to third parties and adds strict oversight to ensure effective third-party access. Whereas in 2009, the OPAL pipeline had been fully exempt from third party access, now half of the pipeline will be subject to regulated third party access with additional pro-competitive requirements, allowing all interested shippers to bid for use of the pipeline capacities.

It should be noted that already under the 2009 exemption the OPAL capacity could have been fully used by Gazprom, e.g. by implementing a gas release program. Therefore the decision to which extent to use the OPAL capacity, and thus the possibility to use various routes to the EU, was in the remit of Gazprom already under the framework of the 2009 exemption. That said, any higher utilisation of OPAL could not replace the gas transit route through Ukraine given its much higher capacity.

The Commission maintains its support to gas transit via Ukraine by actively facilitating trilateral talks with the Russian Federation, supporting gas market reforms in Ukraine and transformation of its gas transmission system.

The Commission's position on Nord Stream 2 has not changed. If built, Nord Stream 2 would not give access to a new source of supply and would further increase transmission capacity from Russia to the EU, although the existing capacity is not fully used.

The OPAL decision does not relate to the Nord Stream 2 project, and no exemption request related to this project has been submitted.

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