Warsaw, Poland – Gas transit via the Yamal-Europe pipeline which carries Russian gas through Belarus and Poland to Germany has been brought down to zero on Tuesday, days after a gas transit deal between Poland and Russia expired.
According to European gas pipeline operators, gas supplies at the Malnov point on the Polish-German border began to decline gradually over the weekend and reached zero on Tuesday morning.
As Warsaw aligns its energy regulations with European Union rules and curbs its decades-old dependence on Russian fuel, the long-term gas transit deal between Russia and Poland, which dates back to the 1990s, was not renewed and expired on May 17.
“Effectively, the current gas deal is over,” Gazprom’s spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov told Reuters earlier this month.
In the case of transit of Russian gas via Ukraine, the European Commission was able to avoid a disruption and to broker a deal satisfactory to all sides, which was signed back in December 2019.
Poland’s regional ambition
Under the impulse of then Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Poland has aimed to gradually reduce its reliance on Gazprom since 2013 and has repeatedly said it will not buy any Russian gas after 2022, when another long-term supply deal will end.
The inter-European Baltic Pipe Project, which will link gas fields on the Norwegian shelf in the North Sea to the Polish coast, has been hailed by Warsaw as a way of reducing said dependence on Moscow.
“If we are talking about full diversification of gas supplies to Poland, if we are talking about full independence of Poland as a recipient from Russia, this is the milestone on the road to this non-dependence”, said Poland’s president, Andrzej Duda, earlier this month, after Italian firm Saipem signed a deal to build a 275 km-long gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea, connecting Poland and Denmark.
The capacity of the new pipeline, scheduled to be launched in October 2022, will be 10 billion cubic metres per year, which reportedly exceeds Poland’s domestic needs and appears to signal Poland’s intentions of becoming a regional gas hub for Europe.
Nord Stream 2 nears completion
Meanwhile, recent reports suggest that Russia’s controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline through the Baltic Sea, which threatens Poland’s energy ambitions, is nearing completion.
The 1,200-kilometer long pipeline has been designed by Moscow to increase gas supplies to Germany, Russia’s biggest energy customer, through the Baltic Sea by bypassing overland routes crossing through Ukraine and Poland.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in January during a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that he hoped the project would be completed in early 2021 at the latest.
The project was just weeks away from completion in 2019, before U.S. sanctions threatened to halt work on the last remaining section in Danish waters, but the arrival of the pipe-laying vessel earlier this month suggests that the pipeline project remains a priority for Moscow.