18-02-2009 (08:45)

Russia restricts gas

Poland's gas supplies remain lower than contracted, but Gazprom is demanding a new agreement.
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Russia restricts gas

Poland's gas supplies remain lower than contracted, but Gazprom is demanding a new agreement.

Despite the fact that Gazprom has not been meeting its contracted supply commitments to Poland, the Russian gas monopoly has demanded that the Polish government renegotiate its gas supply agreement with Moscow. Only after the agreement has been renegotiated will gas supplies via the Yamal-Europe pipeline return to pre-January levels, Gazprom officials informed Polish gas firm PGNiG.

As of last week, Poland was receiving only 75 percent of the gas previously agreed upon with Gazprom. This has been the case since the Russia-Ukraine gas crisis was resolved last month and the government warned last week that this could continue through April 30.

The situation could impact on companies which use more than 417 cubic meters of gas per hour, but households and firms which use less gas are unlikely to experience difficulties.

There are no legal grounds for inter-governmental talks, since the contract in question is between PGNiG and Gazprom, Economy Minister Waldemar Pawlak told the media. Even so, his ministry has already applied to the government for approval of a negotiating strategy with Russia.

Russia's demands have given rise to speculation that renegotiations might open the way for Gazprom to increase Poland's dependence on its gas, or that Russia might be angling to take over Polish firm EuRoPol Gaz, which operates the Polish section of the Yamal pipeline.

The current agreement expires this year, so negotiations have to take place anyway, according to Paweł Nierada, an energy expert at the Sobieski Institute. "Gazprom has already monopolized Polish gas supplies, so the only sensible direction to reduce this monopoly is construction and extension of the gas pipeline network, especially pipelines such as Nabucco," Nierada said, referring to plans for a pipeline to run through Turkey to Austria.

Nierada added that this would allow Poland to greatly diversify its gas partnerships.

Konrad Kiedrzyński

Polub WP Finanse