Polish government plans to revive Norway gas link

Hundvåg, Norway (L.C. Nøttaasen, CC BY)

Poland’s government has announced plans to revive the project to build a gas link to Norway, reportedly making a final investment decision on the planned construction of a gas connection to the Norwegian shelf in 2018, a Polish government official said.

The proposed project – which was first discussed at the end of 1990s – would ship gas from the Norwegian continental shelf to Poland via Denmark. The plan is to have the link ready by 2022 when the long-term agreement on gas supplies with Russia’s Gazprom terminates.

It would consist of a new pipeline between Denmark and Poland, known as the Baltic Pipe, and an infrastructure upgrade between Denmark and Norway. This is a part of Warsaw’s larger energy security plan known as Northern Gate, which also includes the country’s new liquid natural gas terminal that began operations last summer. It has a capacity of 5 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas a year. Poland has started its first liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Świnoujście on the Baltic coast in June 2016.

Poland imports most of the 15 bcm of gas it consumes from Russia’s Gazprom. Increased tensions with Russia over its plans to build the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany is driving Poland to revive the stalled pipeline project with Norway. “We are going to replace supplies from the east with other sources,” Piotr Naimski, , who is in charge of strategic energy infrastructure at the Polish prime minister’s office, said. “Our government is not eager to extend this contract.”

The region, together with the European Commission, has been critical of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 project, which would see Gazprom double its pipeline capacity to Germany under the Baltic Sea, bypassing the traditional route across Ukraine.

“This is in competition with the Nord Stream 2 project,” Naimski said. “The most important for us in Poland is to proceed with the idea of our own project and persuade our neighbors to diversify supplies.”

The pipeline would transport up to 10 bcm of gas, about the same as Poland receives from Russia today, accounting for about three-quarters of the country’s gas needs.

Norway said it is open to the idea, although it said existing capacity is enough to handle gas flows. Norway supplies about a quarter of the EU’s gas, most of it to Germany, the UK, Belgium and France.

Brussels has already selected the proposed Polish-Danish interconnection as one of the EU’s priority infrastructure projects, making it eligible for EU funding. Baltic Pipe is currently undergoing a feasibility study. The plan assumes that part of the link will be the Baltic Pipe – a gas connection linking Poland and Denmark.

Naimski said the feasibility study recently completed by Poland and Denmark’s gas grid operators – Gaz-System and Energinet.dk, has indicated the Baltic Pipe would be feasible. “The investment decision will be taken in 2018,” he told reporters.

Polish gas TSO – Gas Transmission Operator GAZ-SYSTEM and the Danish gas TSO – Energinet.dk are currently conducting a feasibility (co-financed by the EU under the CEF Program) on the potential construction of a gas pipeline linking Poland, Denmark and Norway.

The move would integrate the Danish-Swedish and Polish gas markets by bidirectional trading with the aim of ensuring increased price convergence, strengthen regional security of supply by providing access to Norwegian gas for the Danish-Swedish and Polish gas markets and additionally for the markets in the wider Central and Eastern Europe.

The project includes a link between Poland and Denmark – the Baltic Pipe – is considered a project of common interest signifying that the project is essential for completing the European internal energy market and for reaching the EU’s energy policy objectives of affordable, secure and sustainable energy.

The Norwegian system operator Gassco is contributing to the analysis of the relevant elements.

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