Poland close to winning control of gas pipeline

By bne IntelliNews February 12, 2015

bne IntelliNews -

Poland is set to take control of its section of the Yamal pipeline, the mainline route carrying Russian gas westwards, local press claimed on February 11.

The long battle over EuRoPolGaz - the operator of the Polish stretch of Yamal - could come to an end on March 9, Puls Biznesu reported. Warsaw hopes to seize control of the operator by taking over the company that holds the balance of power, the newspaper says, citing unnamed sources.

Poland's dominant state-controlled gas company PGNiG and Russia's Gazprom each own 48% in EuRoPolGaz. That leaves the 4% held by Gas Trading with the deciding vote. Under the current plan, PGNiG would take control Gas Trading.

Gas Trading's EGM has been called for March 9. On the agenda is a move to lower the majority threshold for major decisions at the company from 75% to 66.6%, with a 60% turnout requirement. That would allow PGNiG - the largest stakeholder - to win a majority, provided that it reaches agreement with Polish industrial investment group Bartimpex. 

According to the newspaper, the agenda implies the pair has already reached agreement. The sources claim PGNiG may seek to leverage this to negotiate lower gas prices from Gazprom in exchange for a 50:50 division of voting power in EuRoPolGaz.

During gas supply negotiations in 2010, the Polish and Russian governments agreed to oust Gas Trading from EuRoPolGaz, with its stake to be evenly divided between PGNiG and Gazprom. However, the deal has never materialised.

Yamal is the only land pipeline connecting Russia with Europe that does not run through Ukraine, going via Belarus instead. The pipeline has a capacity of 33bn cubic metres per year. Initial plans to construct two parallel legs were abandoned when Russia chose to build Nord Stream.

A preliminary agreement signed by PGNiG with Gazprom in April 2013 to add the second line caused a scandal in Poland. After Moscow announced the deal, the CEO of the Polish company and the treasury minister in Warsaw were sacked.

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