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'No new status' in Nord Stream 2 certification process: German regulator


Process halted in mid-November over German subsidiary

Nord Stream 2 undertaking 'necessary efforts' to comply

As European gas prices remain at historic highs

  • Author
  • Stuart Elliott
  • Editor
  • James Leech
  • Commodity
  • Natural Gas

More than two months since the German regulator suspended the process for certifying the operator of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, the status of the application remains unchanged, a spokesperson at the Bundesnetzagentur said Jan. 20.

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The German regulator had four months from Sept. 8 to issue a draft decision on certification, but the process was suspended on Nov. 16 to allow for Switzerland-based Nord Stream 2 AG to transfer assets to a new German subsidiary.

The process will resume once the regulator is satisfied that the actions around transferring assets to a new German subsidiary are completed.

"There is no new status compared to our mid-November press release," the Bundesnetzagentur spokesperson told S&P Global Platts.

It remains unclear when Nord Stream 2 AG will complete the process of setting up the German subsidiary, registering it and then informing the regulator.

"Nord Stream 2 is currently undertaking all necessary efforts to ensure compliance with applicable rules and regulations especially regarding the German Energy Industry Act, which transposes the EU Gas Directive into German law," a Nord Stream 2 spokesman told Platts on Jan. 21.

Under the amended EU Gas Directive, which came into force in May 2019, new non-EU gas pipelines must comply with regulatory requirements on ownership unbundling, third-party access, and tariff transparency.

Gazprom-owned Nord Stream 2 AG applied to the German regulator in June this year for certification as an independent system operator.

Certification timeline

The delay to the certification process continues to push back the start date for the pipeline.

In mid-December, the head of the Bundesnetzagentur said there would be no final decision on the certification of the operator of the pipeline in the first half of 2022.

With the work to comply with the requirements of the regulator regarding the German subsidiary continuing, it appears unlikely that a final decision would be published before September.

Once the process resumes, the Bundenetzagentur would have up to seven weeks to issue its first draft decision.

It then passes to the European Commission which also has up to four months to publish its verdict, after which time it is returned to the Bundesnetzagentur, which has a further two months to come up with a final opinion.

This suggests up to almost eight months would be needed to issue the certification decision from the time the process is resumed.

In addition, Poland's PGNiG, its trading arm PGNiG Supply & Trading (PST), and Ukraine's state gas company Naftogaz Ukrayiny and grid operator GTSOU have all been granted the right to take part in the German regulator's process for certifying the operator of Nord Stream 2.

Poland and Ukraine have been especially vocal in their opposition to the pipeline.

Price pressure

On Jan. 19, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said an idle Nord Stream 2 was "bad" for consumers of gas in Europe with gas prices still at historic highs.

Low Russian supplies and the protracted certification process for Nord Stream 2 have been significant contributors to the recent price strength.

The TTF day-ahead price hit an all-time high of Eur182.78/MWh on Dec. 21, an increase of 985% year on year, according to S&P Global Platts price assessments.

Prices have cooled since, though they remain at historic highs. The TTF day-ahead contract was assessed Jan. 20 at Eur76/MWh, still a year-on-year increase of 275%.