Poland Sees North-South Gas Corridor Ready By 2022


WARSAW, July 13 (Reuters) - Polish gas pipeline operator Gaz-System expects the North-South Gas Corridor linking LNG terminals in Poland and Croatia to be ready by 2022, its chief executive Tomasz Stepien said.

For Poland, seeking to reduce its dependence on Russian gas, 2022 could mark a turning point for its domestic gas market.

Warsaw has said it does not intend to extend the long-term gas deal with Russia's Gazprom when it expires in 2022. By then Poland plans to build a gas link called the Baltic Pipe to Norway to tap into gas deposits in the North Sea.

With its already operational LNG terminal on the Baltic Sea, Poland could then replace Russian gas with other sources and also resell the excess to neighbouring countries.

"The time perspective we talk about in the case of North-South Corridor is the Baltic Pipe perspective, which is 2022. By that time all the pipelines and links should be completed," Stepien told Reuters.

Last week Gaz-System agreed with its Croatian counterpart Plinacro to accelerate work on the corridor.

A key part is a cross-border gas link connecting the Polish and Czech systems, which has faced numerous delays.

"Every project of this type has its own determinants. In the case of the Czech Republic the talks between the Net4Gas operator and the regulator has caused some difficulties. But it cannot be said that the investment has significant delays," Stepien said.

Stepien also said the gas market in central Europe is undergoing significant change in the light of increased LNG supplies and as in many countries long-term supply deals with Russia were about to expire.

He said if Poland did not invest in new gas connections to diversify supply the cost of its gas purchases would be higher by hundreds of millions of zlotys a year.

(Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko and Anna Koper, editing by David Evans)


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