An appeals court in Poland has recently overturned a decision made by the country’s antitrust authority, the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK), to impose the maximum fine on Russian energy giant Gazprom. According to a report from Polish outlet Puls Biznesu, the UOKiK had fined Gazprom 29 billion zloty ($6.85 billion) in 2020. The reason for the fine was Gazprom’s establishment of a company responsible for the construction and operation of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline without prior permission from the regulator, violating competition laws in the process.
The imposed fine was the highest allowed under Polish law, amounting to 10% of Gazprom’s annual turnover. In addition to Gazprom, its five European Union partners – Engie, Uniper, Wintershall Dea, OMV, and Shell – were also fined for their involvement in the project.
However, Gazprom and Shell appealed the ruling, challenging the decision made by the UOKiK. As a result, the appeals court in Poland has now overturned the original decision, effectively canceling the imposed fine on Gazprom. It remains to be seen whether Shell’s appeal will also result in an overturning of their fine.
The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, built by Gazprom and several European companies, began its construction in 2011 and was completed in 2021. This pipeline runs alongside Nord Stream 1, which has been the primary route for delivering Russian natural gas to the European Union. The purpose of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline was to increase the capacity for gas supply from Russia to Germany and other European countries.
However, both Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines suffered damage in a suspected act of sabotage in September 2022, leading to the suspension of gas supplies from Russia to Germany via Nord Stream 1. Furthermore, Nord Stream 2 had never been operational due to licensing issues in Germany.
This latest development in the legal battle between Gazprom and the Polish antitrust authority raises questions about the future of the Nord Stream 2 project. With the fine now overturned, it remains to be seen what actions the UOKiK will take in response to the court’s decision. Additionally, the ongoing licensing issues in Germany also pose a significant hurdle for Gazprom and its European partners in realizing the full potential of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
In conclusion, the appeals court in Poland has reversed the decision by the national antitrust authority to impose a significant fine on Gazprom for its involvement in the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project. This turn of events adds further uncertainty to the already complicated and politically sensitive project, leaving the future of Nord Stream 2 hanging in the balance.