August 9, 2017 / 5:09 PM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 1-Opal pipeline operating at full capacity -Gazprom

(Adds Gazprom and analysts comments, data)

MOSCOW, Aug 9 (Reuters) - Russian gas producer Gazprom said it used the Opal pipeline to full capacity on Wednesday for the first time since a German court lifted a restriction on the company’s access last month.

The EU’s Luxembourg-based General Court imposed curbs on Gazprom’s use of the German pipeline in December, after a challenge by Poland, but a German court rejected the challenge late last month, saying there was no reason to limit the Russian company’s access.

The Opal pipeline carries Russian gas from the Nord Stream pipeline in northern Germany to German and Czech customers in the south.

The European Union is keen to rein in Russia’s dominance of gas supply in parts of Europe but CEO Alexei Miller said on Wednesday it was Europe that needed Russian gas.

“Running this (pipeline) at its full capacity is an objective market necessity for our European customers,” Gazprom’s press service quoted Miller as saying.

Thomson Reuters gas analyst Oliver Sanderson said Russia was not pumping additional gas on Wednesday but was re-routing gas from other pipelines. Volumes could drop as capacity on other pipelines returns to normal following scheduled maintenance, he said.

“The Yamal pipeline has been constrained by maintenance since August 8th and is currently not flowing gas,” Sanderson said. “There is no indication yet that the Opal pipeline will bring a substantial increase in Russian deliveries compared to volumes prior to the maintenance on the Yamal line.”

Gazprom said that on Tuesday more than 90 percent of Nord Stream’s capacity was used with 140 million cubic metres of natural gas pumped on the day. Some 80 percent of Nord Stream’s 55 billion cubic metres/year capacity was used in 2016, data shows.

Poland is opposed to Russia’s longer term plans to double its gas export capacity to Germany via the Nord Stream twin pipeline, a move which Polish and Ukrainian authorities fear could reduce the amount of Russian gas transiting their countries.

Reporting by Oksana Kobzeva and Oleg Vukmanovic,; Writing by Polina Nikolskaya and Denis Pinchuk; Editing by Dmitry Solovyov and Susan Fenton

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