The European Commission has lifted the cap on Gazprom’s use of the OPAL gas pipeline.
The pipeline takes gas from North Germany’s Nord Stream Baltic sea to end users in the country and Czech Republic.
Gazprom was only allowed to take 50% of the pipeline’s capacity to prevent it from dominating the supply infrastructure.
Because of this, a large part of its capacity remained unused and the Russian energy giant requested German authorities to change the rules.
Germany agreed to change them subject to the Commission’s permission, which has approved a potential extra capacity of 20%. However, it must initially be offered to its competitors.
The new measure opens the way for Gazprom to expand Nord Stream’s capacity and bypass Ukraine when supplying gas to Europe.
The Commission stated: “In its decision, the Commission notably requests that a significant amount of the pipeline’s capacity has to be made available as a reliable – so called “firm” – capacity for competitors.
“Under given conditions, the Commission may even revise this threshold further upward. In addition, companies with a dominant position on the Czech market are not allowed to outbid other users of the pipeline for this capacity, while added monitoring obligations provide further safeguards for the pipeline to contribute to market integration and competition.”