EU Gas Directive comes into effect

The updated EU Gas Directive came into effect today, European Commission Spokesperson Anna-Kaisa Itkonen confirmed.

“A procedure has been launched to adapt the national legislations of the EU states,” TASS cited her as saying.

Itkonen noted that the procedure "will last for nine months." However, she refused to clarify aspects of applying the new document, including to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

The official representative of the European Commission said that she would refrain from legal comments until the document came into force.

According to the European Union rules, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline operator should be a company independent from Gazprom. Also, 50% of the gas pipeline's capacity should be reserved for pumping gas from other companies that are independent suppliers.

A leading analyst of the National Energy Security Fund, a lecturer at the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, Igor Yushkov, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza earlier, noted that the updated EU Gas Directive is a de facto sanction against Nord Stream 2. "The European Union does not want to officially impose sanctions in order not to get a negative reaction from Gazprom, so Brussels found a way out in adopting antitrust laws restricting Nord Stream 2. Now, Gazprom will have to turn the last section to a separate project under the management of an independent operator. It will also face a problem with loading the pipeline at full capacity, as the Gas Directive requires that 50% of its capacity should be reserved for an alternative supplier," he explained.

“For its part, Gazprom will argue that there is no alternative supplier or LNG plant at sea where the European part of the pipeline starts, that is, competition is impossible. In this regard, the amendments to the Third Energy Package cannot be applied to the Nord Stream-2. I think that by adopting this document, the EU wants to prevent Gazprom from loading Nord Stream-2 for a certain period," Igor Yushkov stressed.

A senior analyst of 'Uralsib', Alexei Kokin, in turn, said that the impact of the new Gas Directive on Russia's gas pipeline projects in Europe is not so clear. "Everything will depend on how the approval mechanism of new projects and existing pipelines will be applied. In practice, the position of influential EU members will decide. It is not yet clear that these difficulties will be able to block Nord Stream 2," he believes.

"Now, if any EU countries consider that a project threatens their security or gives Gazprom too strong negotiating position, they will have more opportunities to block such a project - but it is not clear how exactly the new directive will work. The main risk for Nord Stream 2 is being underloaded, it should be bypassed through a consensus that will allow Gazprom to use its full capacity, but it poses no risks for the European part of the Turkish Stream," Alexei Kokin concluded.

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