The national court has dismissed an appeal by Escal UGS, the company that developed the Castor project and is 67% owned by ACS and 33% owned by Canada’s Dundee Energy, and ordered the company to repatriate 210 million euros forced into the gas network.
Escal appealed a 2019 decision by the National Commission of Markets and Competition (CNMC) ordering him to reimburse 195 million euros (without interest) for the settlements served to him as compensation. Compensation for the closure of the project.
The watchdog requested this reimbursement after the Constitutional Court in 2017 declared null and unconstitutional the compensation of 1,350 million euros to Escal approved by the PP government in 2014 and which was opposed by the Catalan Parliament, the Catalan Generalitat and more than fifty PSOE deputies had appealed.
The government at the time decided to close the Castor underground gas storage facility when several seismic movements were detected during the filling phase of the cushion gas. The approved compensation would be reflected in the gas tariff for 30 years. The 210 million that must be repaid correspond to the final accounts of 2014, 2016 and 2017.
Among Escal’s arguments for filing this appeal was the allegation of the CNMC’s inability to handle and resolve the review process ex officio.
However, the judgment does not share this criterion and qualifies the regulatory authority as an independent administrative body, since it carries out the tasks assigned to it in the gas sector in complete autonomy from the Government and the General Administration.
The ruling also orders Escal to pay legal costs, although the outcome can be appealed.
In its 2019 decision, the CNMC also demanded that Banco Santander repay an additional 71.9 million euros, CaixaBank 48 million, Enagás 32.4 million and Bankia 21.1 million euros.