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Expert: Gazprom succumbs to Poland only because it has to


Gazprom succumbs to Poland only because it has to – told PAP energy market expert Wojciech Jakóbik, referring to PGNiG’s recovery of over PLN 6 billion in gas overpayment. “Gazprom no longer has effective tools to put pressure on Poland,” he said.

As the editor-in-chief of the industry portal Biznesalert pointed out, Gazprom had to comply with the verdict of the Arbitration Tribunal, because it is a legal verdict of a court which should be subject to the rule of law. “We had a number of judgments of this type and Gazprom + bowed to its clients and renegotiated the terms of the contract, so Poles should give way, but he did it only after the verdict.”

As he assessed, “Gazprom succumbs to Poland only because it must.”

“One can suspect that his submissive attitude is due to the fact that he no longer has effective tools to put pressure on Poland, which he uses when he has them at his disposal. He continues to do so in Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia and Armenia. Where Gazprom feels strong, he is still abusing his dominant position, “said Jakóbik.

In his opinion, “we are lucky” because we have invested in the LNG terminal, the Baltic Pipe gas pipeline will soon be launched, we are expanding the circle of gas suppliers. “This freedom of choice means that even if the Russians tried to” hatch + “, interrupt gas supplies to Poland, they would only lose their share in the Polish market to others,” he pointed out.

The expert noted that Gazprom “burns ground under its feet”, loses the European market, where new competition appears. “This can be seen in the significant decrease in Russian gas exports and the significant decrease in Gazprom’s revenues in 2020. This trend will only be aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic, which generally reduces the demand for gas in the world,” he said.

Jakóbik emphasized that the Poles had gone to court with Gazprom under a political decision, because the relations of the gas agreement with the Russians are not only fortified by trade agreements between PGNiG and Gazprom, but also by an intergovernmental agreement.

“This is the archaic nature of gas relations between Poland and Russia dating back to the 1990s, when the so-called contacts for gas supplies via Poland called Yamal were signed,” he explained.

Jakóbik reminded that the proceedings before the arbitral tribunal lasted a long time, the hearing of the parties ended in December last year. The verdict in favor of PGNiG came in the spring of this year. “The court changed the price formula made it dependent on the stock market conditions for crude oil and forced Gazprom to return the overpayment from 2014, which means it has been retroactive in favor of Poland,” he noted.

He added that the Russians appealed, which they are entitled to. “On the other hand, they can submit only formal objections, e.g. to procedures, and not to the content of the judgment itself,” he pointed out. He noted that the Russians say that the Tribunal had no right to change the price formula, because Poles did not request a change, but a reduction. “But these are technicalities. The court ruled that Poles should get a lower price and until he examines the Russian appeal, the sentence must be enforced,” he explained.

He added that “there is a very small chance that it will be revised in favor of Gazprom after the appeal.”

Jakóbik estimated that the company’s previous authorities had gathered a good team of lawyers who successfully fought in arbitration. “For what the current president of PGNiG thanked his predecessors” – he added.

On Tuesday, the Interfax agency, referring to information from Gazprom, wrote that the Russian company, in accordance with its commitments, transferred PGNiG the amount awarded in the arbitration. Gazprom also declared to Interfaks that a refund does not mean that he gives up attempts to change his judgment as a result of the appeal procedure.

On March 30, 2020, PGNiG won a dispute with Gazprom over gas prices in the Yamal contract. Under the judgment of the Stockholm tribunal, the new price is to be calculated from November 1, 2014. The Polish company estimated that it should recover over PLN 6 billion in overpayment from Gazprom, and announced that it would take steps in this direction.

The Court changed the formula for calculating the price in the Yamal contract in such a way that it is significantly linked to prices on the European market, much more market-oriented and close to the price at which PGNiG sells gas to customers.

A month later, PGNiG received from Gazprom declarations of compliance with the new price conditions of the Yamal contact.

At the beginning of June 2020, Gazprom lodged a complaint about the arbitration award with the Stockholm Court of Appeal, demanding that the final judgment of 30 March be set aside. PGNiG emphasized at the time that the complaint did not affect the implementation of the arbitration award, and that the Stockholm Court of Appeal was examining the contested arbitration proceeding only in procedural terms and it was not possible to change the arbitration award in substantive terms. (PAP)

author: Longina Grzegórska-Szpyt

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