WARSAW. MARCH 1. INTERFAX CENTRAL EUROPE - Poland is in talks with partners in Germany, Denmark and Norway regarding the construction of a gas pipeline between Norway and Poland, Polish Economy Minister Piotr Wozniak told a press conference Thursday.
"We're preparing to build a gas pipeline through the North Sea," Wozniak said. "We will soon see the finalization of plans of completing the gas link to Poland."
The Polish government has made energy diversification a top priority in the wake of what it perceives to be Russia's increasingly political approach to gas and oil supply.
State-controlled gas monopolist PGNiG said Thursday it agreed to buy a 15% share in licenses for the extraction of gas and oil from the Skarv and Snadd fields off the coast of Norway, with the total estimated capacity of 35.8 bln cubic meters of natural gas, 18.3 bln cubic meters of crude oil and condensate, and 5.8 mln tons of natural gas liquids.
In the late 1990s, Poland signed a contract with Norway's Statoil that would see the construction of a gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea. The contract was cancelled by the post-communist administration of Leszek Miller in 2001.
Wozniak said the gas will be shipped to Poland through existing and new gas pipelines.
"For sure it won't be shipped as [liquefied natural gas] LNG," he said. "According the investment plans for the project, the gas will be transported using pipelines that already exist.
"It requires some investment to hook the fields to the existing infrastructure, but in terms of delivering to Poland, it is a matter of negotiations that have been taking place for six months with Danish, Norwegian, and German companies," he added.
Wozniak said the latest contract with PGNiG provided the necessary justification for the construction of a new gas pipeline, even though the total price of gas coming from the North Sea was likely to be higher than that coming through the Yamal pipeline from Russia.
"The reason for buying the field in the North Sea is to get 100% security of supplies, without interruptions or lower supplies in the winter," Wozniak said, referring to Russia's cutoffs of gas supplies to Belarus and Ukraine amid price disputes over the past few years. "The price for the share in the field [USD 360 mln] is in the middle of the range paid in this region of the world."