Since September 8, gas pipeline operators in Poland, Slovakia, Germany, Austria, Romania, and Italy have separately reported on declines in Russian gas supplies varying from 5% in Romania to 45% in Poland. (Famagusta Gazette)
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Poland is taking steps towards creating a gas trading and transit hub in Central and Eastern Europe aimed at accomplishing what much of the region has failed to do: shake off almost complete reliance on Russian gas imports.
Poland will open a liquefied natural gas terminal in 2015 and build new pipelines — including a planned north-south corridor stretching to Croatia — to help ease the grip of Russia’s Gazprom over former Soviet bloc nations.
Central Europe’s biggest economy, which also intends to upgrade gas links to Lithuania to allow the re-export of gas to the Baltics, has said it plans to build 2,000 kilometers of pipelines criss-crossing the country over the next 10 years.
“The north-south corridor, currently under construction, could be an interesting alternative, particularly for the southern countries, as it will make it easier for them to access non-Russian gas,” Tomasz Chmal, an analyst at Poland’s Sobieski Institute, said.
“Countries like Slovakia, Hungary or Bulgaria could use it and buy gas at market prices, not the prices they manage to negotiate with Gazprom.”
Like much of the region, Poland relies on Russia for nearly all its natural gas, a precarious situation for a nation whose uneasy relationship with Moscow has been further strained over the stand-off with Ukraine.
Reduced gas flows from Russia this month to Poland, Slovakia, Austria and Romania have also underlined both the threat and the need for countries in Central and Southeastern Europe to forge their own energy independence.
Estonia, Finland, Lithuania and Latvia receive all of their natural gas from Russia.