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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

Polish antitrust watchdog fines Russia’s Gazprom over Nord Stream 2

03.08.2020 10:45
Poland’s antitrust authority says it has imposed a fine of around EUR 50 million on Russia's gas giant Gazprom for its lack of cooperation in proceedings involving the contested Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
Audio
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.PAP/EPA/SERGEI ILNITSKY

The controversial 1,200-kilometre pipeline being built under the Baltic Sea is expected to have the capacity to send around 55 billion cubic metres of Russian natural gas a year directly to Germany, while bypassing the Baltic states, Poland and Ukraine.

Poland has vehemently opposed the project, saying it will pose a threat to Europe’s energy security by doubling Russia’s gas export capacity via the Baltic Sea.

Poland’s Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) said on Monday it ordered Gazprom to pay almost PLN 213 million—"an equivalent of EUR 50 mln"—for failing to cooperate in an investigation with regard to the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

The fine is the result of proceedings that the Polish anti-monopoly authority launched several years ago against Gazprom and five international companies, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.

The head of the Polish anti-monopoly office, Tomasz Chróstny, said, as quoted on the uokik.gov.pl website:

"Based on the existing provisions, at the beginning of the year, we requested Gazprom to provide us with contracts concluded by [its] subsidiary with other companies financing the construction of Nord Stream 2.

"Despite its legal obligation to cooperate with the Authority, the company failed to provide such information, even after the proceedings in relation to failure to cooperate, which should have been a warning for the company, were initiated in May.

"Violation of the laws of Poland, a Member State of the European Union, will result in financial sanctions provided for in such laws.

"To my mind, it is an intentional act, the aim of which was to obstruct the ongoing proceedings. Therefore, I have decided to impose a penalty of PLN almost 213 mln on Gazprom.

"It is a maximum sanction provided for by law for failure to provide information requested by the Authority, which constitutes an equivalent of EUR 50 mln."

In August 2016, the Polish anti-monopoly office opposed a planned consortium between Gazprom and its European partners, saying the Nord Stream 2 project would undermine competition.

In November last year, the Polish competition watchdog said it had ordered Engie Energy, a company involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2, to pay PLN 172 million (EUR 40 million) as part of the proceedings.

Warsaw has strongly criticised Nord Stream 2 amid concerns that the pipeline will make the European Union more dependent on Russian gas.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has called Nord Stream 2 “a new hybrid weapon” aimed at the European Union and NATO.

Russia's Gazprom earlier this summer returned around USD 1.5 billion that Poland’s state-run gas company PGNiG overpaid for deliveries, following a ruling by an international arbitration court, officials have said.

(gs/pk)

Source: IAR, PAP, uokik.gov.pl

Listen to an audio report by clicking on the ‘Play’ icon above