German courts deal fresh blow to Nord Stream 2

Germany’s energy regulator on Friday declined to grant a waiver of European Union gas directives to the operators of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, dealing a fresh blow to the project to carry gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea, Reuters reports.

Nord Stream 2, designed by Russia’s Gazprom in order to increase direct shipments to Europe, is already way behind schedule and has faced political opposition from the U.S. as well as from Ukraine and Poland, through whose territory Russian gas is currently shipped to consumers in western Europe.

Germany’s Bundesnetzagentur regulator said on Friday that the project is not exempt from so-called unbundling rules, which imply production, transport and distribution of energy must be independently organised, on the section that runs through German territory.

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It said the Nord Stream 2 consortium - which also includes Uniper, Wintershall-Dea, Shell, OMV and Engie - did not qualify for an exemption because the pipeline had not technically been completed by May 23rd, 2019.

A German Economy Ministry spokesman declined to comment on the authority’s decision, adding that its relevant decision-making chamber was independent.

The dispute over regulation does not affect the ongoing construction of the pipeline, but its operation once it is running.

Nord Stream 2 expects to open in late 2020 or early 2021.

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