| WARSAW, April 6
WARSAW, April 6 Poland's drive to replace gas
imports from Russia with supplies piped from Norway and
shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in five years will
reduce prices, an official at gas network operator Gaz-System
Warsaw, which has faced disruptions in Russian supplies in
the past, does not plan to extend a long-term delivery deal with
Russia's Gazprom on expiry in 2022.
Instead, Poland wants to increase LNG supplies and build a
pipeline from Norway through Danish territory and under the
Baltic Sea to replace the annual Russian gas imports of up to
10.2 billion cubic metres.
"The diversification of gas supplies directions and sources
will definitely have an impact on a fall in prices for the
market participants," Pawel Jakubowski, director at Gaz-System's
development division, told Reuters in an interview.
He did not give specific price estimates.
A representative at state-run gas firm PGNiG has previously
said Gazprom's prices for Poland were not competitive. PGNiG
does not release figures for the cost of its purchases.
Gaz-System, which is working with Denmark's Energinet.dk on
building the 300-km Baltic pipeline, expects to sign binding
agreements by the end of the year with firms taking the gas.
This would follow a procedure to be launched in the first
half of this year known as "Open Season", which gauges market
interest in the pipeline and its capacity, Jakubowski said.
Gaz-System, which is responsible for the construction of the
Baltic Pipe, wants to finance it partly with European Union
funds, Jakubowski said.
If the pipeline does not go ahead, Gaz-System would consider
building a new, floating LNG terminal.
"At the moment this is our plan B," Jakubowski said, adding
growth in demand was not likely to be enough to support a
pipeline and two LNG terminals working simultaneously.
"The horizon of 2019 and 2022 is coming. Since we are facing
an area of uncertainty after these dates, Gaz-System has to be
prepared for any possibility," Jakubowski said.
Before Poland's supply deal with Russia expires in 2022, a
deal for Russian gas to transit Polish territory to Germany
expires. Officials have not said if that deal will be renewed.
Gaz-System is considering other cross-border connections
with its neighbours to allow it to become more of a regional hub
for gas supplies.
(Editing by Edmund Blair)