The Polish antimonopoly regulator UOKiK fined Gazprom for “unwillingness to cooperate” in an investigation into the Nord Stream 2 project. The amount of the fine was PLN 213 million (about $ 57 million).
From the statement of the regulator, it follows that the claims relate to the proceedings on the creation of a consortium to finance the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, "without the necessary consent of the president of UOKiK."
“In the course of this trial, the chairman of UOKiK applied for documents related to the case to Gazprom, but the company refused to provide information important for the ongoing investigation,” the regulator said in a statement.
UOKiK said in a statement that the requested documents were mainly related to agreements on the transfer, distribution, sale, supply and storage of gaseous fuels.
According to RIA Novosti, Gazprom has already announced that it intends to appeal this decision, since the information requested by the Polish side, according to representatives of the Russian company, had nothing to do with the investigation.
“Earlier, PJSC Gazprom in its response asked UOKiK to provide a justification for the legitimacy of requesting the relevant information, but it did not receive such justification,” the company said.
Meanwhile, the Federation Council considers the actions of the Polish regulator to be another attempt to disrupt the implementation of the Nord Stream 2 project. Vladimir Dzhabarov, first deputy chairman of the Federation Council committee on international affairs, spoke about this in an interview with RT.
“This is an attempt in any way to disrupt the construction of Nord Stream 2 and leave transit through the territory of Ukraine to Poland,” the senator concluded.
- © Nord Stream 2 / Axel Schmidt
Polish claims to the project participants
The Polish regulator UOKiK in June this year opened a case against Gazprom for lack of cooperation in the course of an antitrust investigation and threatened the Russian company with a fine of up to € 50 million for refusing to provide information on the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
Recall that Nord Stream 2 is two strings of a gas pipeline with a total capacity of 55 billion cubic meters per year and a length of more than 1200 km, which pass through the exclusive economic zones and territorial waters of five countries - Russia, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Germany.
At the same time, Gazprom is not the first target of the Polish regulator. In November 2019, UOKiK fined another participant in the Nord Stream 2 project - the French company Engie - PLN 172 million (about $ 44.7 million at that time). The reason, according to representatives of the antimonopoly department, was the "constant and unreasonable refusal" to send the documents that the Polish side requested as part of the investigation of the "Nord Stream - 2".
For example, the Polish regulator demanded that the French provide "information about gas fuel, in particular contracts for its transportation, distribution, sale, supply and storage." As follows from the statement of UOKiK, the French company did not transmit this information. After that, Engie said they intend to appeal the decision.
The operator of Nord Stream 2, Nord Stream 2 AG, reacted to the fine of the Polish side against the French company. The organization stated that “the statements of the Polish antimonopoly authority have nothing to do with the implementation of the Nord Stream 2 project. The company also noted that the implementation of the project "is based on compliance with all applicable laws and regulations."
Based on the publications of the Polish anti-monopoly regulator, the investigation into Nord Stream 2 started back in 2016. In April 2018, UOKiK opened antitrust proceedings against the participants in the construction of the gas pipeline - Gazprom, Engie, Uniper, OMV, Shell and Wintershall.
The Polish side blames the listed companies for work on Nord Stream 2 without the consent of the Polish Antimonopoly Service. In June 2018, Gazprom sent its objections to the Polish side on this issue and requested to terminate the investigation.
Igor Yushkov, an expert at the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, a leading analyst at the National Energy Security Fund, suggested that the Polish side needed to demand some documents from Gazprom and the subsequent fine to justify similar actions against Engie.
“Although the courts are not over, there is no court decision, the Poles had to somehow confirm their positions - why they suddenly issued a fine to the French, - so they began to demand some documents from Gazprom,” Yushkov said on the air radio Sputnik.
The expert believes that Gazprom was not obliged to provide any documents, but UOKiK's claims were nevertheless followed by a fine.