Gazprom’s love hurts even his closest allies. This makes them sometimes go to the Poles’ side – writes Wojciech Jakóbik, editor-in-chief of BiznesAlert.pl.
PGNiG said that the Bulgarian Overgas will join the Polish and Lithuanian dispute over the settlement of the European Commission and Gazprom in the antimonopoly investigation. This is a valuable ally. The dispute concerns the resolution of the investigation into Gazprom’s abuses on the Central and Eastern European market, which have been affected, among others Bulgaria and Poland. The allegations also concerned unauthorized influence on the transmission infrastructure on the Yamal-Europe gas pipelines and the Bulgarian section of the Transbalkan gas pipeline. The Commission considered that this was a domain of interstate arrangements, an interference that would not be enough for its competence.
It turns out that, despite Gazprom’s allegations of violations, the Russians retained shares allowing them to influence the infrastructure in Poland and Bulgaria. Meanwhile, according to antitrust law, it should be taken over by an independent operator. In Poland, it is Gaz-System, which formally is already the operator of the Polish section of the Yamal gas pipeline, but in fact much still depends on EuRoPol Gaz with 50 percent of Gazprom’s shares, which has control over the ICT infrastructure managing the bandwidth. Similarly in Bulgaria, because Gazprom – despite declarations after the Commission’s investigation – did not sell 50 percent of shares in the Bulgarian Gaz-System, or Overgas.
It turns out that close cooperation with Gazprom is troublesome even to the closest allies. Its symbol may be the objection of Bulgaria, as the only state in the Council of the European Union, to the revision of the gas directive, which will lead to the subordination of the contested Nord Stream 2 European law, and thus at least delay its construction. Sofia’s cooperation with Moscow in the gas and nuclear sectors does not mean that Gazprom’s monopoly is not troublesome. This time, this state of affairs has acted in favor of Poles who have another ally in the dispute over the role of the Russian monopoly in our region.