New York — The second string of the EUGAL gas pipeline in Germany -- designed to be the onshore extension of the unfinished Nord Stream 2 line -- is on schedule to become operational on April 1, according to operator Gascade.
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EUGAL's first string -- which has a capacity of 30.9 Bcm/year -- runs for 480 km from the landing point of the 55 Bcm/year capacity Nord Stream 2 at Lubmin on the Baltic Sea to Deutschneudorf on the German-Czech border.
It became operational at the start of 2020 despite Nord Stream 2 not being completed, and has been able to flow gas from the first 55 Bcm/year Nord Stream pipeline via the NEL pipeline.
The second string of EUGAL, which will run for a shorter distance of 329 km, will boost the capacity of the two lines to 55 Bcm/year.
In November last year, Gascade said EUGAL would reach full transport capacity on April 1. A spokesman said March 29 that guidance remained "fully valid."
Large parts of the EUGAL line run parallel to the existing OPAL gas pipeline, which carries gas from the first Nord Stream pipeline into Germany and on to the Czech Republic.
As well as its link to NEL, EUGAL is also connected to the FGL306 and JAGAL pipelines flowing gas westward further into Germany.
EUGAL will be restricted to flowing Nord Stream gas for the time being given that Nord Stream 2 has yet to be completed.
That means Nord Stream itself can continue to flow at or above capacity given that EUGAL can on-flow gas while capacity restrictions persist on the OPAL pipeline.
OPAL court appeal
Restrictions on how much capacity Gazprom can book in OPAL came back into effect in September 2019 after the EU General Court in Luxembourg annulled a 2016 European Commission decision that gave Gazprom the right to bid for up to an extra 34 million cu m/d of OPAL transit capacity.
Natural gas flows via OPAL to the Czech Republic fell by some 40 million cu m/d after the ruling was enforced in September 2019.
The ruling meant Gazprom's access conditions reverted to the previous third-party access exemption decision agreed by the EC and German regulator Bundesnetzagentur in 2009.
It came after Poland successfully convinced the court that the EC's decision breached the EU energy solidarity principle.
Germany in November 2019 appealed the court ruling with the Court of Justice, but last week, a Court of Justice adviser said the court should dismiss Germany's appeal. The court is expected to rule in the coming months.
Gazprom could look to apply for a new exemption to allow it to book more OPAL capacity if the appeal is dismissed, according to the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.
"Once Nord Stream 2 is completed, the OPAL restriction would become a constraint, as both strings of EUGAL would be needed for transporting Nord Stream 2 gas," it said in a study published last week.