Photo: Gas for Europe GmbH.

By Peter Meller

The Russians want the Nord Stream 2 certificate on their terms. This is another attempt by Gazprom to circumvent European energy law.

 

The Swiss company Nord Stream 2 AG, whose sole owner is Gazprom, has set up a subsidiary in Germany with the aim of acting as “independent operator” of the German section of the Russian gas pipeline.

The company is called Gas for Europe GmbH and, according to a press release from Nord Steram 2 AG (100 per cent owned by Gazprom), will become “the owner and operator of a 54-kilometre section of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in German waters”.

The Russians stress that the company will be an “independent operator” of the transmission system “in line with German energy law”. The head office of Gas for Europe GmbH is located in Schwerin.

“The certification of Nord Stream 2 is conditioned by the establishment of the German company under the terms of the German Energy Act,” the Russians write. However, they fail to mention that an independent operator must also meet the requirements of the EU energy law.

Currently, the Union’s Third Energy Package prohibits one company from being both a gas supplier and an owner of the pipeline. Does Gas for Europe GmbH, whose sole owner is Nord Stream AG, or in other words Gazprom, meet the condition of independence from? Not only is the owner the same, but most of the managers are Gazprom employees.

Reinhard Ontid, who worked for Germany’s E.ON and Nord Stream 2 AG, has become the company’s CEO, according to the new company’s website. The website also lists the supervisory board members. Its chairman is Dieter Walter Haller, who was a German diplomat for most of his career, including in Russia. The supervisory board consists of Elena Burmistrova, Deputy Chairman of Gazprom’s Board of Directors and CEO of Gazprom Export, and Paul Corcoran, CFO of Gazprom’s Nord Stream 2 AG.

Despite this, the Russians will try a second time to push Gazporm through as an independent operator. Gas for Europe GmbH must submit a new application for certification. In mid-December, Jochen Homann, head of the German Federal Network Agency (BNA), said he expected a decision on Nord Stream 2 no earlier than the beginning of the second half of 2022. Germany has admitted PGNiG and the Ukrainian operator to the certification process. Then the decision will be presented to the European Commission for approval. And that will not be a sheer formality.