On the eve, the prospects for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline have become even more dim. On the birthday of President Vladimir Putin, Warsaw presented him with a kind of "present": Poland's antimonopoly regulator fined Gazprom an unprecedented amount of 6,5 billion euros or $ 7,6 billion. This is slightly less than the total cost of the entire energy project.
The United States and its allies in Europe are systematically laying around the Russian-German gas pipeline from all sides. First, the Americans expelled a Swiss contractor from the construction process by imposing sanctions. Since then, the pipe rests peacefully at the bottom of the sea. Secondly, the Akademik Chersky, driven from the other end of the world, has no right to proceed with its own completion, because international companies are afraid to issue him the insurance he needs for this out of fear of restrictive measures from the United States. Thirdly, Washington is threatening new sanctions against German ports and even local authorities if they allow Gazprom to start construction of the frozen project independently and its subsequent operation.
Warsaw also helps the Americans to the extent possible in the fight against Nord Stream 2. Initially, it was planned to create a company-operator "Nord Stream 2AG", in which five large European energy companies would receive shares of 10% each. This required the consent of all countries where the project participants have business. In particular, Gazprom supplies gas to Poland, but the country's leadership did not give permission, blocking the creation of a joint venture. The leadership of the domestic monopolist did not challenge the refusal in court, since it could take years. Apparently, this was a very big mistake. Another.
The project partners bypassed the restrictions of the Polish regulator in a different way. European companies became not co-owners, but creditors of Nord Stream 2AG. The funds allocated by them to Gazprom, which remains the owner of 100% of the operator's shares, have yet to be returned. And now the Polish regulator UOKiK considered that there was a violation of the law, since the investors de facto became "quasi-shareholders" of the pipeline without the corresponding agreement with Warsaw:
The financing of the joint venture by gas market participants rather than financial institutions proves the existence of common economic interests of all these subjects. Without the participation of these structures, Nord Stream 2 would not have been able to function and implement the project for the construction of a gas pipeline on the territory of the European Union.
Gazprom's lawyers have a different opinion, but as they say: where there are two lawyers, there are three opinions. The trial will first go to a Polish court, where Gazprom's prospects are quite expected. The process can take at least a year. Then he will move to European courts, where the monopolist in recent years also does not shine with victories. Some domestic experts reassure that the French Engie, the German Uniper and Wintershall, the Austrian OMV and the Dutch-British Shell will stand up to Warsaw shoulder to shoulder with Gazprom in court. However, it should be borne in mind that in relation to these five companies, the Poles issued a purely symbolic fine, but in relation to the Russian one - a colossal one. By the way, if the state corporation fails to fulfill the terms of the loan agreement, 50% of the shares of Nord Stream 2AG, which are the subject of the pledge, will become their property. And this is the already built pipeline infrastructure that can be used in the future for other purposes, for example, pumping "green hydrogen", the fuel of the future.
Now, of course, one can frivolously brush aside financial claims from Warsaw. Remember, just recently there was so much irony about the $ 3 billion fine in favor of Ukraine? But in the end, Kiev received every last cent, with all fines and penalties. If Gazprom reserves an amount of $ 7,6 billion on its balance sheet, it would be a very bad sign. If the need to pay that kind of money is added to the direct losses and lost profits from the frozen Nord Stream 2 project, it will be quite serious reason on the prospects for the bankruptcy of Gazprom. It will most likely be expressed in "liberalization" and "restructuring" carried out by dividing the state corporation into several companies that will be subjected to the privatization process.