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Poland intends to take away from Russia the channel of gas delivery to Europe – Rambler / finance


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?

Poland wanted to take away from Russia the gas delivery channel to the EU
The operator of the Polish gas transmission system Gaz-System presented a draft plan for the development of the country’s GTS for 2022-2031. The authors of this project proceed from the forecast that gas consumption in the country will grow, Poland will stop consuming Russian gas and switch to new sources of imports. And within the framework of the construction of the Polish “energy empire” in Warsaw, they propose to arbitrarily dispose of “their” section of the Yamal – Europe gas pipeline leading to Germany.

Napoleonic plans

Poland consumes 15 billion cubic meters of gas a year. It produces a third of this volume on its own on its territory, and receives the rest through imports. The main supplier at the moment is the Russian “Gazprom”, on the basis of a long-term contract with which until 2022 the country can annually purchase 10.2 billion cubic meters of gas.
In recent years, the Polish state-owned company PGNiG (Polskie Gornictwo Naftowe i Gazownictwo) has acquired stakes in 27 licenses for the development of offshore fields in the North Sea, and is an operator in four projects. The Poles also intend to expand their liquefied natural gas terminal in Swinoujscie to 7.5 billion cubic meters and put into operation a floating LNG terminal for 4.5 billion cubic meters in Gdansk. The head of PGNiG, Piotr Wozniak, said that allegedly American LNG would cost Poland almost 30% less than Russian gas.
However, Poland not only intends to get out of dependence on Gazprom, but also wants to become a gas hub serving neighboring countries. Thus, within the next few years Warsaw intends to launch the Baltic Gas Pipeline with a capacity of 10 billion cubic meters per year, which will connect the state’s infrastructure with the fields of “blue fuel” in the North Sea.

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.

By the way, the controversial pipeline has been operating in the new regime for almost a year now. On May 26, 2020, the German gas transmission company Gascade announced an almost complete cessation of gas pumping through the Polish section of the Yamal-Europe pipeline. This was due to the fact that by that time the long-term agreement between Russia and Poland on transit through the Polish section of the gas pipeline had expired. Igor Yushkov, an analyst at the National Energy Security Fund, said at the time: “It’s just that Poland switched to a slightly different system. Now, like in the rest of the European Union, Gazprom will participate in auctions that the operator of the Polish gas transportation system will be obliged to hold and take as many lots for pumping as it needs. That is, in this regard, for Gazprom, the system is becoming even more flexible than it was. “

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.

How exactly is Warsaw going to “polonize” “Yamal – Europe”? As noted in the Russian Institute of International Political and Economic Technologies (RUSSTRAT), if everything is done honestly, then the “Gazprom share” will need to be redeemed, and this is a serious amount that Warsaw is unlikely to want to pay. “Poland is either trying to take away Russian property in compensation for the still pending” antimonopoly “litigation over the alleged overstatement of gas prices by Gazprom in the past, or will follow the path of artificially reducing the market value of EuRoPol GAZ assets,” RUSSTRAT.

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!

However, Warsaw was not satisfied with what had been achieved. In August 2020, the Polish Office for the Protection of Competition and Consumers (UOKiK) fined Gazprom $ 57 million for “refusing to cooperate” in the case of the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. UOKiK demanded from Gazprom contracts concluded by its subsidiary with other companies financing the construction of Nord Stream 2, ran into a refusal and demanded a fine. So if you need to lay your hand on Yamal – Europe, the Polish side will probably have a reserve of various jib-making tricks that can “justify” such a seizure.
Natalya Eremina, Doctor of Political Science, Candidate of Historical Sciences, Professor of St. … Eremina told the VZGLYAD newspaper that Poland cannot formulate its position on the issue of energy interaction with Russia ahead of the EU.

“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.

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