Poland on track to become independent from Russian gas: president

Poland is well on track to shake off its decades-old dependence on Russian gas, the country’s president suggested on Wednesday.

President Andrzej Duda was attending a ceremony in the Baltic port city of Świnoujście where an agreement was signed under which the European Union will help finance a planned expansion of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in northwestern Poland.

Speaking during the signing ceremony, Duda said the expansion of the terminal, combined with the construction of a planned gas link to Norway via Denmark—a project known as the Baltic Pipe—would enable Poland to “not only soon become completely sovereign in terms of gas supplies, but also bring this kind of security to its neighbours.”

He named neighbouring countries such as Ukraine and the Czech Republic.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said at the signing that the expansion of the LNG terminal in the country’s northwest would help Poland become a major hub for the distribution of liquefied natural gas across Central Europe.

Morawiecki told reporters that the project was part of an energy security strategy initiated by former President Lech Kaczyński, after whom the terminal is named.

The terminal’s operator, the Polskie LNG company, said in December that the facility would be expanded to increase its capacity from 5 billion to 7.5 billion cubic metres of LNG annually.

The expansion project will be 60 percent co-financed by the European Union, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported on Wednesday.

Piotr Naimski, the Polish government pointman’s on strategic energy infrastructure, said in February that Poland would stop buying Russian gas after its long-term supply contract with Russia’s Gazprom expires in 2022.

“Poland will not extend the contract,” Naimski told public broadcaster Polish Radio at the time.

Instead “new possibilities will appear,” Naimski said, naming the Baltic Pipe, a planned new pipeline that will link Poland with Norway via Denmark as part of Warsaw’s efforts to diversify gas supplies and reduce the country’s energy dependence on Russia.

Poland will also seek to diversify supplies by signing new contracts for the purchase of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States and Qatar, Naimski told Polish Radio.

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