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Poland Mulls FSRU in Gdansk Bay

Polish state-owned grid operator Gaz-System on March 27 reported on plans for a floating LNG import terminal (or FSRU) that it is thinking of installing in Gdansk bay for start-up in 1H 2021, as a possible alternative to building new pipelines to step up Norwegian gas imports, Natural Gas World reports.

The FSRU project does not appear on the EU’s latest list of Projects of Common Interest (PCIs). Moreover Poland’s existing onshore LNG terminal ran at 55% so it’s unclear whether EU co-funding – normally needed for new infrastructure projects – for a second terminal could be guaranteed.

The European Commission has already refused funding for other LNG capacity in Estonia, and denied Lithuania help with reducing its lease payments to Hoegh.

Gaz-System said that a feasibility study for the FSRU in Gdansk bay is part of implementation of a “strategic industrial project” to enable LNG imports to rise from 4.1bn to 8.1bn m³/yr into Poland and neighbouring countries. But it did not say to what extent that 8.1bn m³/yr capacity would be fulfilled by the existing 5bn m³/yr Swinoujscie terminal, on the Polish-German border, for which a 50% expansion of capacity to 7.5bn m³/yr has already been mooted. The Swinoujscie facility is operated by Polskie LNG, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Gaz-System.

“We are currently analysing the project of the floating FSRU in Gdansk Bay, which is an alternative to the basic variant — the Norwegian corridor and the construction of the Baltic Pipe,” Gaz-System told NGW March 28. It added that it is “prepared for various possibilities [and] therefore currently finalising the tendering procedures for FSRU feasibility study.”

Total cost of investment for the ‘strategic industrial project’, including the FSRU, is zloty 3bn zloty (€700mn, $760mn) said Gaz-System’s March 27 statement. But this did not disclose whether that includes the charter or purchase of the FSRU; nor did it explicitly state the FSRU’s capacity. It did though say that eight firms bid to provide the FSRU feasibility study. The study, and a decision on whether to accept its outcomes, would be published by end-2017, it said.

PGNiG ‘not involved’ in Gdansk LNG planning

Poland’s state-run dominant gas supplier and importer PGNiG said it was “not involved” in the FSRU project. It uses the existing Swinoujscie terminal to import Qatari LNG, and is believed to be keen for a pipeline route for PGNiG’s Norwegian equity gas to be developed.

Even with Poland and Croatia’s ambitions to pipe regasified LNG to neighbouring countries in central Europe by pipe, this does not yet explain if demand would justify a second Polish LNG terminal near Gdansk – particularly as many in recent years have been happy to increase Russian imports, rather than diversify their sourcing to LNG.

Existing Polish LNG terminal not fully used

Gaz-System disclosed last week that, since the Swinoujscie terminal opened in December 2015, it had received 2.5mn m³ of LNG cargo (the gas equivalent of 3.45bn m³); of that 1.5bn m³ had been fed into the national gas transmission system.

That 3.45bn m³ over a 15-month period amounts to an annual rate of 2.76bn m³, representing a utilisation rate of 55% relative to its 5bn m³/yr capacity.

The 55% rate is higher than at some western European LNG import terminals; the export overland from Swinoujscie of LNG by road truck to Estonia may explain why it is relatively high. But it raises the question of why Poland needs a second terminal, when the first has yet to be used effectively.

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