The importance of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline may turn out to be even more important for Russia than it was planned. In addition to insuring against transit risks in Ukraine, the undersea pipe should become a backup option in case of problems with the transportation of Russian gas through Poland. What are we talking about and what are the chances that Warsaw will deprive our country of a section of the Yamal – Europe gas pipeline?
One way or another, Poland does not intend to extend cooperation with Gazprom after 2022. This means that Gazprom will lose the market by 6.6 billion cubic meters. But no less important is the fact that the change in supply sources will directly affect the operation of the Yamal – Europe transit gas pipeline. This pipeline crosses Poland and is, in fact, the feeding core of its gas transportation system, although it is not officially part of it.
This gas pipeline with a length of over 2,000 km (from Torzhok to Frankfurt-on-Oder) was brought to a design capacity of 33 billion cubic meters. m per year in 2006. The very same agreement on the transit of gas to Europe through Poland via a pipeline, concluded in 1996, was calculated until the end of 2022 (with a possible further extension, which never followed). The Polish section of the gas pipeline has 683 km of linear section and five compressor stations. Currently, the Polish section is working in a forward direction – to Germany. Part of the gas from Yamal – Europe goes to Poland.
Of course, Yamal-Europe is not the only export pipeline for the delivery of Russian gas to the target market. The Nord Stream pipeline is operating at full capacity, while the Ukrainian gas transmission system is still pumping gas stably.
A daring design
If now Poland receives the main volumes of gas from the east, then the reorientation to new sources will move the point of their entry from the Belarusian-Polish border to the Baltic Sea coast. In this situation, the Polish operator would have to re-create the country’s gas transmission system. But it seems that Warsaw has decided to take the simplest route and reorient the Polish section of the Yamal – Europe gas pipeline to a new direction.
So, until 2024, they want to connect with it (by a separate line) at the German border in western Poland, the LNG terminal in Swinoujscie and the Baltic Gas Pipeline, and after 2024 a pipeline will be built from Gdansk. As a result, Gaz-System will be able to fill Yamal-Europe with gas from new sources. Thus, Gaz-System plans to integrate the gas pipeline into the Polish GTS and switch it to reverse operation. That is, it is supposed to supply Norwegian gas and regasified LNG via Yamal – Europe from the west to the center and even to the east of the country. From where the fuel will be distributed through new branch pipelines, for example, to the Baltic countries.
It should be recalled here that the owner of Yamal-Europe is the EuRoPol GAZ enterprise, in which Gazprom and the Polish state-owned company PGNiG each own 48%. Another 4% are owned by Gas-Trading SA, which is also controlled by PGNiG. The operator is Gaz-System, which the Polish regulator extended the rights to this gas pipeline in 2019. That is, the Poles can redesign the gas pipeline either with the consent of Gazprom (and why would he give it to them?), Or by spitting on his opinion.
And so it happened – Gaz-System transferred all reservations to the auction, where Gazprom buys transit. At the same time, 10% of the pipeline’s capacity is still under the control of EuRoPol GAZ – until 2023.
Which option will Warsaw choose?
RUSSTRAT suggests recalling the events of recent years, when Poland filed a lawsuit against Gazprom, accusing the company of allegedly taking advantage of its monopoly position in the market and supplying gas to this country at inflated prices for a long time. In the end, the arbitration court in Stockholm awarded the victory to the Poles – which caused great enthusiasm among them. Still, I managed to get a huge amount of money!
“They show exclusively their own position, which is based on nothing. In fact, this is another political game against Russia, in which “all means are good” – but it will not lead to any consequences.
But it is also hard not to notice that in this way Poland is declaring its own national interests that are not directly related to the general policy of the EU, ”Eremina notes.
She adds that Poland is interested in a stable supply of natural gas.
“It is obvious that Warsaw wants not only to receive natural gas, but also to participate in its redistribution across the EU countries. The emphasis on building a Polish “energy empire” confirms that Warsaw will continue to try to resist Nord Stream 2. However, there will be Nord Stream 2, but the future of the Yamal – Europe gas pipeline is completely unclear. We also take into account that projects related to the privatization of objects of the European energy system are additionally considered in the EU, ”emphasizes Eremina.
In any case, the final decision rests with the Polish government. Now the plan for the reconstruction of the Polish gas transmission system, prepared by Gaz-System, is under consideration in the Cabinet of Ministers. What decision will be made on it is not yet clear.