Poland denies Russian claims it has asked for gas from Nord Stream 2

By bne IntelliNews June 24, 2016

Poland on June 23 denied Russian claims that it has requested gas deliveries from the planned Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Poland was reacting to claims from main gas supplier Gazprom, as well as Germany's Wintershall - the oil and gas subsidiary of Germany's BASF, a member of the consortium building Nord Stream 2 with the Russian gas giant. Warsaw and most other Central & Eastern European countries are strongly opposed to the project; it seems likely that the claims are a classic Russian attempt at mischief making.

Gazprom’s deputy CEO Alexander Medvedev told reporters at an industry conference in Berlin on June 23 that Warsaw has requested 11bn cubic meters (cm) be supplied to Poland via Nord Stream 2, Russia's state-owned newswire TASS reported. A similar claim came around the same time from Wintershall’s CEO Ties Thyssen, according to RIA Novosti, another government-owned news agency.

Poland’s energy ministry instantly denied the suggestion angrily, which was likely the point. Warsaw is a leading voice amongst a group of CEE states opposing the project, which Germany is trying to push past EU regulations. Sowing mistrust within that group would fit Moscow's usual mode of operations.

Russia may also be hoping to provoke an over-reaction from the combustible Law & Justice (PiS) government, which has been in a face off with Brussels over its consolidation of power since it took office in November. In 2014, a Russian announcement that it was about to sign a feasibility study with Polish gas utility PGNiG on construction of a new pipeline to run through Poland cost PGNiG’s CEO and the treasury minister their jobs.

“The news from TASS is not true. Poland is firmly against the construction of Nord Stream 2,” the Polish energy ministry snapped in a statement.

Poland has spoken a number of times against Nord Stream 2. Warsaw and other CEE states consider the planned pipeline – which woud expand the direct route linking Russia and Germany via the Baltic Sea – as a means to evade the leverage of transit countries for exports to western Europe, leaving Russia, which is the major supplier for most states at the eastern end of the EU, holding all the aces.

"The Nord Stream-2 project that is currently under preparation can pose certain risks for energy security in the region of central and eastern Europe. It would strongly influence gas market development and gas transit patterns in the region, most notably the transit route via Ukraine," a letter of eight CEE leaders to the European Commission stated in March.

Poland is working hard to reduce its reliance on Russian gas. The country's new LNG terminal, which received its first commercial cargo in June, has the potential to cover a substantial chunk of imports, albeit, likely at a higher price than piped Russian supplies. Warsaw is also working to build a pipeline to Norway to open a new supply route.



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