The European Commission has moved back its deadline for making a decision on utilizing the capacity of the OPAL gas pipeline, Sabine Berger, the spokeswoman for European Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger, told Interfax
The decision is now due in mid-September, Berger said.
The rescheduling was made because several technical aspects require additional study, she said.
The Russian Energy Ministry, which filed for permission to use 100 percent of capacity on OPAL, the onshore continuation of the Nord Stream gas pipeline, expected to receive a response from the European Commission by July 15.
The European Commission and Germany's federal grid regulator have cleared Gazprom to use just half of OPAL's capacity of 36 billion cubic meters a year, which limits capacity utilization on Nord Stream and makes transportation on the undersea pipeline system more expensive.
Russia and the EU have considered several variants for exempting the OPAL branch of the Nord Stream gas pipeline from the Third Energy Package. Russia has said the best option was for OPAL's free capacity to be placed at auction. This would allow for a third part to have access to the pipeline.
The issue was expected to be resolved in early March, when OPAL's spare capacity was expected to be placed at annual auction on the PRIZMA platform. European officials put off making a decision at the last minute, however. This was at the same time that tension surrounding Ukraine was increasing.
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