Poland claims green light on Baltic Pipe close

By bne IntelliNews October 27, 2016

Poland is on track to convince Denmark to join the Baltic Pipe project, which would link the Central European country to Norwegian gas resources, Warsaw's energy minister told local media on October 27.

Baltic Pipe is a key project in Poland's push to reduce dependence on Russian gas imports. Warsaw also hopes a newly unveiled LNG terminal will help offer the country leverage in talks on any new contract with Moscow, with the current deal set to end in 2020.

"We want to ensure energy security to countries [of the CEE region]. We want to carry out the [Baltic Pipe] project regardless of what is going on in external environment," Energy Minister Krzysztof Tchorzewski said, according to Parkiet.

Officials have suggested LNG and supplies via Baltic Pipe could completely replace Russian supplies, although that looks ambitious. Gazprom currently supplies around 70% of the 16bn cm consumed annually in Poland.

Warsaw has worked hard to turn Baltic Pipe into a realistic project, having only raised the idea earlier this year to transmit gas from Norwegian gas fields operated by state-controlled PGNiG via Denmark. Cold shouldered by the Scandinavians at first, Poland has persisted.

Poland has recently made a lobbying effort to support Baltic Pipe, organising a public hearing about the project in the European Parliament last week. The European Commission's Vice President for the Energy Union Maros Sefcovic described the project as potentially a "stable way of supplying Norwegian gas to Denmark, Poland, and the entire CEE region".

While Poland claims Denmark is nearly convinced to take part in Baltic Pipe, officials in Copenhagen have been reported to say they are still waiting for the conclusions of a feasibility study, due in December. On the other hand, Denmark's ruling Liberal Party has said the project could relieve Poland and CEE from pressure exerted by Russia.

The Scandinavian country has, however, expressed worry about the commercial viability of the project. Tchorzewski said the Danish reservations are nearly overcome, but did not detail that issues that still need agreement.


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