Russian gas from Germany will be ‘last resort’: Polish FM

Poland's Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz. Photo: PAP/Marcin Obara

On Saturday, Poland’s Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz stressed that Poland was focusing on its energy diversity programme and would only buy Russian gas from Germany “as a last resort” if all other efforts failed.

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Mr Czaputowicz, speaking during a foreign policy conference in Warsaw, said that the government hoped that the Baltic Pipe project, connecting Poland’s gas network with ample natural gas deposits off the coast of Norway, would be completed in a timely manner to coincide with the expiry of the much-criticised Gazprom deal for gas imported from Russia in 2022.

When asked about the possible options in the event that the initiative was delayed, he responded by saying that Poland would buy gas for the most advantageous price available, listing both the United States and Germany as possible sources. One of Poland’s liberal news websites which first reported on the issue made much of the latter statement, suggesting that buying German gas would effectively mean tapping into the resources supplied by the upcoming Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline which had previously attracted Poland’s scathing criticism for geopolitical reasons.

Mr Czaputowicz stated that while he could not rule out the risk of Poland buying gas routed via the divisive pipeline, he said this option would only be used as a last resort, that is if Poland required more gas than could be obtained from other sources, such as its recently completed gas terminal in Świnoujście, which serves as a transit point for LNG purchased from suppliers in the United States.

Poland’s energy diversity policies are largely driven by its long-standing dependence on Russian gas. Recent examples, such as the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, have shown the Kremlin’s willingness to use gas as a tool of energy blackmail.

The construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, slammed by Poland, the Baltic States and US President Donald Trump alike, is likely to increase Western Europe’s reliance on gas imported from Russia while at the same time exposing Eastern Europe to undue influence from Moscow as cutting off supplies to the region would no longer affect the flow of gas into Germany and further west.

With a planned capacity of 10 bn cubic metres, the Baltic Pipe project, connecting Poland to Norwegian gas reserves via Denmark, would cover a large portion of Poland’s demand for gas, currently estimated at around 16 bn cubic metres a year. Only about 25 percent of this amount is covered by domestic sources, forcing Poland to import most of its gas from abroad, with Russia still currently accounting for the majority of imports.