Gazprom’s Nord Stream 2 may challenge EU rules, says EU legal adviser

A road sign directs traffic to the entrance to the Nord Stream 2 gas line landing facility in Lubmin, Germany, September 10, 2020. REUTERS / Hannibal Hanschke / File Photo

BERLIN, Oct.6 (Reuters) – The Swiss unit of Gazprom (GAZP.MM) can challenge an EU gas rule that requires gas producers to be separate companies from those that control the pipeline, a adviser to the highest court in the EU.

Russian Gazprom owns operator Nord Stream 2 and is the planned gas supplier for the Russia-Germany link which was completed last month.

Advocate General Michal Bobek’s opinion, if confirmed by the EU Court of Justice (CJEU), could help Russian society in its long-standing struggle with the bloc.

This would give Nord Stream 2 another avenue in its legal battle to increase its gas sales to Germany. The issue is critical as Europe faces soaring gas prices.

The European gas directive aims to ensure fair competition in the market and to prevent companies from obstructing competitors’ access to infrastructure.

“Nord Stream 2 AG can challenge in European courts the directive extending the scope of the gas directive to gas pipelines connecting the EU to third countries,” said Bobek.

“The adoption of the directive changed the legal position of Nord Stream 2 AG, which, moreover, was the only company genuinely affected by this legal act.”

The CJEU, which follows such non-binding opinions in four out of five cases, will rule in the coming months.

Operator Nord Stream 2 said the EU rule, amended in 2019, was aimed at shutting down the pipeline. A first instance court last year dismissed a challenge by the operators of Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 against the rule.

Russia said on Wednesday it had not contributed to the surge in natural gas prices in Europe, where recovering demand, low levels of storage and declining supply in the spot market have all contributed to contributed to a crisis in the energy market. Read more

The case is C-348/20 P Nord Stream 2 AG / Parliament and Council.

Reporting by Maria Sheahan, additional reporting by Gleb Stolyarov in Moscow; edited by Thomas Escritt and Barbara Lewis

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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