Poland, one of the countries strongly opposing the Russia-led Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline project, fined on Wednesday Russian gas giant Gazprom the equivalent of US$7.6 billion saying that the pipeline harms both competition and consumers.
Poland’s Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, UOKiK, slapped the maximum fines allowed – 10 percent of a company’s turnover – not only on Gazprom, but also on the five European energy firms that are co-financing the Nord Stream 2 venture, Shell, OMV, Engie, Wintershall DEA, and Uniper.
Gazprom was fined with US$7.6 billion (29 billion Polish zloty), while the five European partners were slapped with a total of US$61.4 billion (234 billion Polish zloty) in fines, the Polish competition regulator said.
The decision can be appealed, said the regulator.
“Completion of this investment project increases the economic dependence on the Russian gas - not only in the case of Poland, but also of other European states,” the competition office’s president Tomasz Chróstny said in a statement.
The United States, several European countries including Poland and the Baltic states, as well as the European Union (EU), have expressed concern about Russia using gas sales and its gas monopoly Gazprom as a political tool, seeing Nord Stream 2 as further undermining Europe’s energy security by giving Gazprom another pipeline to ship its natural gas to European markets.
Commenting on the Polish regulator’s decision, Gazprom said, as carried by Russian agency TASS:
“The decision of UOKiK violates principles of lawfulness, appropriateness and fair proceedings, while the unprecedented fine amount indicates the decision to oppose implementation of the Nord Stream 2 project by all means.”
Gazprom will appeal the fine because it hasn’t breached competition laws in Poland, the company said.
Meanwhile, Denmark last week cleared the final hurdle to Nord Stream 2 potentially starting operations in Danish waters.