PM backs Norwegian gas pipeline

Construction of Baltic Pipe project ‘highly likely’, Polish PM said.

Nord Stream 2 a political project: Polish official

Poland’s deputy Energy Minister urges the EU to respond to controversial pipeline plans.

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Speaking to the press on Sunday, the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that it is “highly likely” that the new underwater pipeline linking Poland and Denmark with Norway’s gas fields would be built, although the negotiation process is still ongoing. The project, known as the Baltic Pipe, would decrease Poland’s dependence on Russian gas.

Mr Morawiecki said that Poland was in the process of “very difficult” negotiations with Norway and Denmark as well as Sweden – the countries which all must agree upon the final course of the contemplated pipeline.

“We have the will to act and the necessary funding”, the Polish PM said, adding that the primary aim of the project was diversification of gas supplies. Poland’s annual demand for gas remains in the region of 15 billion m3. Poland continues to purchase the majority of its gas from Russia’s Gazprom gas supply giant, although the share of Russian gas has seen a substantial decrease from 90% in 2015 to about 70% in 2017, mostly due to ongoing diversification efforts such as the construction of the new gas terminal in the Świnoujście seaport on the Baltic Sea.

Mr Morawiecki said that once the pipeline with an annual capacity of 10 billion m3 is completed, “Gazprom’s monopolist position and its capacity to dictate prices will be almost nullified”.

Energy security has been high on the agenda in the EU in recent years following Russia’s attempts to exert political pressure on Ukraine by means of energy blackmail. Russia successfully completed its Nord Stream pipeline across the Baltic from Russia to Germany, bypassing Poland and Ukraine and is now negotiating for a second line of the project, which would allow it to discontinue gas supplies to Germany via Ukraine completely.

Until recently, Germany had been the main backer of the Nord Stream project, although Chancellor Angela Merkel’s recent remarks about the need to ensure Ukraine does not suffer as a result and the admission that the project has political implications in addition to economic ones may signal a slight change in stance.

The Baltic Pipe project, intended to link Poland’s and Denmark’s gas distribution infrastructure with Norway’s natural gas deposits, is included on the EU’s priority energy projects.