Gazprom uses full capacity of OPAL line

Gazprom used the Opal gas pipeline’s full capacity Wednesday for the first time since a German court lifted a restriction on the company’s access in July, the Russian firm’s CEO Alexey Miller said.

“During the period from Aug. 1 to Aug. 8, the loading of the OPAL gas pipeline by Gazprom increased by 30%. Today, the pipeline has reached full capacity. The volume of daily gas supply to GIS Greifswald on Aug. 8 reached 140 million cubic meters,” Miller said, in a statement sent to Kallanish Energy.

The 36-billion-cubic-meter-per-year OPAL pipeline runs through Germany along the Poland-Germany border. It’s a link connected to the Nord Stream pipeline, which brings Russian gas to European customers.

Last October, the European Commission lifted a cap on Gazprom’s use of Opal, allowing the company to increase capacity usage from 50% to 80%. The decision, however, was legally fought by Poland, which filed a 14-charge complaint against the EC and the German market regulator in December.

Polish energy firm PGNiG claimed “Gazprom, by using fait accompli, is striving for complete dominance on the German, and subsequently Central European, gas market, as well as the termination of gas transit through Ukraine.”

Miller said the demand for Russian gas in Europe is very high. “Gazprom maximally uses all available export routes … Running (OPAL pipeline) at its full capacity is an objective market necessity for our European customers.”

OPAL told Kallanish Energy it “can’t give information about customers or speak for them.” After the restriction was lifted in Germany, Opal was allowed to market the previously mostly unused line capacity in accordance with the settlement agreement concluded on Nov. 28, 2016.