Shell and four other European energy companies have lodged appeals in Poland against the imposition by the country's competition watchdog of multi-billion dollar fines over their participation in the controversial Nord Stream 2 Russian gas pipeline project.
The Anglo-Dutch supermajor has been joined by Germany's Wintershall Dea and Uniper, OMV of Austria and France's Engie in lodging appeals against the earlier decision of Poland's agency for competition and consumer protection, UOKiK.
Besides the fines, UOKiK has also ordered the quintet to cancel their agreements with Nord Stream 2 under which they agreed to provide corporate loans to the operator in anticipation that these may be converted into minority stakes in Nord Stream 2 upon completion of the pipeline.
Russian gas giant Gazprom, which owns Nord Stream 2, said at the end of the last week that it also appealed the fine of $7.6 billion, imposed by UOKiK concurrently with its penalties for European companies.
Speaking on a conference call on Tuesday, Uniper chief financial officer Sascha Bibert said the company has not amended its financing role in Nord Stream 2 following the UOKiK’s ruling. He also added that US sanctions against Nord Stream 2 are not threatening the company.
Bibert said that Uniper provided about €700 million ($805 million) of project financing to Nord Stream 2.
The pipeline operator has reportedly not asked for additional financing this year after construction of the remaining pipeline segment in Danish waters was abruptly halted in December 2019 on the eve of introduction of new US sanctions against the project.
UOKiK has not replied to a request from Upstream to provide details on the appeals process and anticipated timetable.
The regulator earlier called for companies that suffered losses as a result of UOKiK’s prohibition for European companies to team up with Gazprom in Nord Stream 2, to file a lawsuit against any of project’s participant.
Gas price disagreement
Gazprom has implied that it will not yield to pressure from Poland to re-negotiate price formula for long-term Russian pipeline gas deliveries to the country.
The Russian gas monopoly’s export offshoot, Gazprom Export, responded with a counter-proposal to increase the price of Russian gas, sold to Poland’s state oil and gas producer PGNiG, earlier this week.
PGNiG said on 2 November that it formally asked Gazprom for a downward revision of the price of Russian gas to avoid starting lengthy arbitration proceedings in Sweden to achieve this goal.
The long-term contract between PGNiG and Gazprom — running between 1996 and 2022 — provides for the supply of 10 billion cubic metres of gas annually.
The take-or-pay clause of the contract obliges PGNiG is to buy a minimum of 8.7 billion cubic metres per annum of Russian gas.