Polish terminal to ensure gas independence from Russia

12th October 2015, Comments 0 comments

Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz on Monday opened a maritime liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on the Baltic coast to ensure the EU member's energy independence from Russia.

The 720-million-euro ($820-million) investment in the northwestern city of Swinoujscie comes at a time when Poland has built hundreds of kilometres (miles) of pipelines and underground gas reservoirs over the last few years.

"Poland has achieved its strategic goal: we're independent when it comes to gas," Kopacz said at the opening ceremony, adding that this independence affords Warsaw the option of negotiating prices.

The terminal will have an initial capacity of an annual five billion cubic metres, or a third of the gas consumed by Poles every year. The capacity could reach up to 7.5 billion cubic metres in the coming years.

The country of 38 million people currently depends on its own resources for a third of the gas it consumes. It imports 40 percent from Russia and 20 percent from Central Asia.

The decision to build the terminal was made in 2006, and its construction by energy services group Saipem -- a subsidiary of Italian oil giant Eni -- was initially supposed to be completed last year.

The first liquefied gas tanker will arrive from Qatar -- the largest producer of liquefied natural gas in the world -- around mid-December.

Poland inked a 20-year gas delivery deal with Qatargas in 2009 regarding its Swinoujscie terminal.

A long string of gas disputes between Ukraine and Moscow has repeatedly threatened Russian energy supplies to Poland and other EU members further west.

Polish politicians have also railed against Russia's Nord Stream pipeline, which pumps gas along the Baltic Sea floor to Germany.

Warsaw argues Nord Stream undermines Poland's energy security stemming from its role as a transit country for Russian gas via the Yamal-Europe pipeline.

© 2015 AFP

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