Poland may face natural gas shortages later this year as a result of delays in signing a long-term gas supply deal with Russia, the European Commission said on 17 September. Brussels says Poland is preventing EU companies from buying its surplus Russian gas, infringing EU internal market rules.
The agreement on increasing Russian gas delivery to Poland and its transit to Germany through the Yamal pipeline was negotiated last year but has not been signed due to worries that it is incompatible with European Union laws.
"It might be that from mid-October there is a gas shortage in Poland, but as you know we have tried to improve our legislation on that," Marlene Holzner, the Commission spokeswoman on energy issues, told reporters.
"We're not talking about the whole winter. As far as we know we're talking about mid-October until December. We're only talking about some hours where there might be a peak in demand, and we're working of course with the Polish government on scenarios and also on solutions," she said.
Warsaw and Moscow will have more talks over the weekend and next week to try to tweak the contract so it conforms to EU rules. EU experts will also be present as advisers, the first such involvement of the bloc in Polish-Russian energy talks. The Commission expects other EU countries to help Poland for some time should it not receive enough Russian gas.
"We have asked member states who have gas storage, it might be possible for member states to help out for a couple of months," said Holzner.
The deal covers 10 billion cubic metres of Russian gas a year for Poland until 2037, as well as gas flowing onwards to the rest of Europe through the Yamal pipeline.
The Commission has said the deal must respect EU rules which say that the pipeline must not be monoplised by Poland and Russian gas companies PGNiG and Gazprom. Poland imports about 65-70% of the 14 billion cubic metres of its annual gas consumption from Russia, a dependence that worries many in the EU's biggest ex-communist state.
(EURACTIV with Reuters.)