EU regulators have seemingly undercut their own policy of sanctioning Russia for its transgressions in eastern Ukraine and in the Crimea by
allowing Gazprom to ship more gas through Nordstream and lifting the cap on the Ostsee-Pipeline-Anbindungsleitung (OPAL) pipeline deliveries. This is significant for Russia as it can now bypass the Ukraine and Poland as a gas transport route and transport the gas directly into Central Europe.
As Thierry Bros, a senior researcher at Oxford Institute of Energy Studies, said: "It's very good for Gazprom, it's very good for Europe and it's very bad for Ukraine."
Norbert Röttgen, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Bundestag, questioned whether a pipeline which disregards the security interests of the Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic states can be viable. He also warns that this could lead to the further division of Europe.
Under the new rules, Russia's state gas exporter, which supplies around a third of the EU's gas, retains its access to 50 percent of the pipeline.
But it gains the right to bid for another 7.7 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas carrying capacity or as much as 12.8 bcm if other suppliers do not take up a provision giving them access, a European Commission official said on Friday. Rivals will be given access to up to 20 per cue tot Opal's 36 bcm of annual capacity.
For its part, Gazprom said it can now deliver more gas to a region which is struggling with energy supplies from the North Sea and the Netherlands where gas fields are running low and the oil price slump has hit them hard.