We have been transporting gas from Lithuania since Sunday. Will we send it to the Czech Republic?

Interconnectors, ie the points connecting the gas networks of different countries, should be one of the pillars of Poland’s gas security in the event of the actual termination of the contract by Russia’s Gazprom. The Kremlin-controlled energy giant cut off gas supplies to us on April 27. Polskie Górnictwo Naftowe i Gazownictwo (PGNiG) has officially stated that it wants to restore the flow from Russia. However, it is clear that this will not happen – the declaration of the Polish company is more aimed at ensuring the right to compensation for breach of contract, the implementation of which is still alleged.

Delivery from Germany is increasing

Experts estimate that new contacts with suppliers other than Russia will be enough to supply us with enough gas. Interconnectors that allow deliveries from EU countries, in turn, can be an airbag in crisis situations. If there are problems with the operation of the Baltic pipeline or the gas terminal in inwinoujście, the gas will flow in a larger flow. The first unit will be ready in the fall and will draw gas from the Norwegian continental shelf. The second facility will be commissioned at full capacity by the end of the year. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is supplied there, among others, by the United States and Qatar.

So far, we have been able to use interconnectors on the borders with Germany and the Czech Republic. The flow from Germany has increased since the suspension of supplies from Gazprom. This means that raw materials of Russian origin can still flow to Poland from the first, still operating line of the North Stream gas pipeline.

In turn, according to measurements by the European Network of Gas Transmission System Operators, the flow from the Czech Republic to Poland has remained stable over the past month. In the future, the transfer point in Cieszyn may gain value. Thanks to the commissioning of a modern compressor station in Kodzierzyn-Kole, we will be able to increase gas import capacity from the Czech Republic from half a billion to one billion cubic meters.

Will the Czechs invest in our gas terminal?

Czech gas is actually gas from Russia (87 percent of all imports), although Prague plans to reduce its dependence on supplies from the occupying country. Prague says it is preparing for a possible gas embargo. In case of its application, the Czechs want to collect the gas flowing to the Polish gas port.

In late April, Prime Ministers Morawiecki and Fiala also spoke about the launch of a completely new gas pipeline connecting the two countries. The plan to build the Stork II connection has been under discussion since 2011, although the project seemed abandoned two years ago. Today, the rulers are returning to a project to build a 60-kilometer pipeline in Kęzizia-Kźźźa that will connect the systems of the two countries. The Czechs are also interested in investing in the expansion of the gas terminal in Shinoujie, which will allow them to supply through Polish facilities.

Thus, it seems that in the future, the Cieszyn interconnector – like a new gas pipeline – will serve more Czechs than us. This is an important change in the energy policy of our neighbors. Last year, the Czechs wanted to take part in the transportation of gas from the North Stream 2 pipeline, which is being built by German-Russian forces. Prague is preparing to build a new nuclear power plant to support the already obsolete nuclear power plants in Temel and Dukovani. In March, they decided to exclude Russian and Chinese companies from the tender procedure.

Germany also wants to import gas by sea

Germany is also working on an accelerated withdrawal plan from Russian gas. And in this case, it is possible to involve Poland and use the West Pomeranian gas terminal – although Berlin has not yet confirmed its interest in such an option. According to experts from the German Institute for Economic Research, in the future our western neighbors should rely primarily on supplies from gas terminals in the Netherlands and France.

Today, Germany does not have its own gas terminal, but the decision to build it has already been made. From 2017, German and Dutch companies plan to jointly invest in the German company Brunsbuttel in the North Sea. Now the work on it must be accelerated. Germany wants the gas terminal to be used for future hydrogen imports – a fuel that will allow the European Union to achieve climate neutrality. For now, they are based on supplies from Russia, which cover 55 percent. their demand for imported raw materials.

Gas pipeline to Lithuania instead of tanks

The last part of the gas puzzle around Poland is two new connectors – one under construction and the other newly commissioned. The first is to unite Poland and Slovakia soon. The installation has been ready for use since last year and is now awaiting final acceptance.

In recent weeks, the rulers have paid more attention to the supply of supplies from Lithuania. Its creation will allow sending 2 billion cubic meters of gas to Poland and 2.5 billion cubic meters to Lithuania. In 2020, annual gas consumption in Poland will reach 20 billion cubic meters. The interconnector in Santaka, Lithuania, where the 508-kilometer GIPL gas pipeline ends, is one of the investments that actually makes us independent of gas from Russia. Lithuania has stated that it has completely abandoned its consumption. Thanks to the new pipeline, in times of crisis we can rely on more efficient supplies from the gas terminal in Klaipeda – so far PGNiG orders have been delivered to Poland by tankers loaded on trucks.

Europe is fighting for a gas embargo

Gas investment is accelerating because the future of gas supplies from Russia is very uncertain. EU member states are still discussing a new package of sanctions against the Kremlin. One of its points is the resource embargo. We are approaching some form of embargo on Russian oil – most likely it will be in the sixth package of European sanctions, the details of which will be available later this week. Germany’s voice is decisive, so the latest statement by the country’s foreign minister is very important.

“In the EU, we are in favor of a joint withdrawal from oil imports as part of the EU’s sixth package of sanctions (Russia),” Annalena Baerbok told ARD on Sunday.

Such a decision may be related to the results of the recent visit of the German Minister of Economy to Poland. Robert Habek offered to supply crude oil from Poland through the oil port of Gdansk. As a result, East German refineries may be independent of supplies via the post-Soviet Przyjaźń, which transports raw materials from Russia. However, the German news agency dpa claims that Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, Spain, Italy and Greece are still opposed to the blockade of oil imports from Russia. However, Germany’s statement may force them to reconsider their position. We wrote about this on OKO.press:

There is a harsher “no” in the community in the face of the gas embargo. According to Anna Moscow, the head of the Ministry of Climate, Hungary, Austria and Germany have a brake on this issue. In the latter country, there is no strong support for tougher sanctions against the Kremlin. According to a poll conducted in mid-April at the request of Der Spiegel magazine, 40 percent are in favor of the gas embargo. 48 respondents are against such a solution.

As we wrote on OKO.press, the position of the German Federal Government ignores the voices of experts, who point out that the absence of an energy embargo will ultimately cost the European countries many times more than the temporary difficulties associated with the embargo.

Solidarity test

However, it is possible that the decision to block gas supplies to many countries will be made in Moscow, not in Brussels. The Kremlin can turn off the tap in countries that refuse to pay for raw materials in rubles – as in Bulgaria and Poland. Last week, Bloomberg reported on companies from four countries that have already paid in Russian currency and ten other entities that have opened ruble accounts with Gazprombank, which has evaded sanctions.

In this regard, the Polish government urges Brussels to be more flexible and take a tough course against countries that comply with Russia’s requirements. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said she will not make concessions to countries that pay Gazprom in rubles. He called such actions a violation of sanctions.

The head of the European Commission said in late April: “Our instructions on this issue are very clear.” “If it is not provided for in the agreement, paying in rubles is a violation of sanctions. About 97 percent. All contracts with Gazprom explicitly provide for payments in euros or dollars. Companies with such contracts should not agree with Russia’s demands. That would be a violation of high-risk sanctions for companies. “

Today, the European Commission’s position was strengthened by Energy Commissioner Cadre Simson. After the meeting of EU energy ministers, Simson said he agreed that paying the ruble through a mechanism set by Russia would violate EU sanctions imposed after Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.

The European Union is facing an important test. If he maintains a united front and does not comply with Russia’s demands, he could close the Putin regime to the wall. – and voluntarily. As we have repeatedly written on OKO.press, stopping the flow of energy resources is difficult for Europe, but a tolerable problem, and for Russia it will be a total disaster.

Marcel Vandas
Marcel Vandas

Reporter, author of texts on climate and economics. A graduate of Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin, she previously worked, among others, at Radio Esca and Radio Krakow, and also published Magazyn WP.pl and Wyborcza.pl.

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