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  • Ramzi Allen Alafandi

New Gas Pipeline from Norway to Poland Opens, Signaling European Unity

To lessen Poland's and Europe's reliance on gas supplied from Russia, the Baltic Pipe, a new pipeline delivering gas from Norway to Poland, was inaugurated at a ceremony attended by government leaders of Poland, Norway, and Denmark. Delivery of natural gas from the Norwegian shelf to Poland will now take place via Denmark and the Baltic Sea. Poland developed a strategy to diversify its economy away from dependency on Russia many years before Moscow's invasion of Ukraine in February triggered a crisis in the global energy market. Norwegian flows and Poland's LNG terminals are key elements in the country's overall plan in reducing the country's reliance on energy imports from Russia.

Shortly before the event, officials in Denmark and Sweden reported massive gas leaks on the Russian-operated Nord Stream pipelines, sparking fears of sabotage. According to Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Russian domination in the gas industry is coming to a close. According to previous reports, the country's connection to the Russian gas supply was severed in April because of a refusal to pay for gas in Russian rubles. "This era was defined by blackmail, threats, and extortion," he stated during the inauguration at Budno in western Poland. Terje Aasland, the Norwegian Minister of Energy, referred to this development as a significant step for Poland and Europe on the vital path to independence from the Kremlin.

Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen stated that all countries must work together and do all in their power to eliminate energy as an instrument of Russian supremacy, and that only by joining together will they succeed. Due to the substantial progress that has been made on construction, the Danish system operator Energinet indicated over the weekend that the Baltic Pipe link may be commissioned at full capacity a month earlier than originally anticipated. It moves the date up to the end of November rather than the first of January as was originally planned. The restart of construction in Denmark, which had been halted for nine months due to environmental concerns, began in March of this year. "We were able to lay the remaining pipes in a shorter length of time than we had anticipated due to the fantastic work that was put in by everyone concerned, and because of this, full commissioning could take place ahead of time,” according to Torben Brabo, who is now serving in the role of Director of International Relations at Energinet.

The Baltic Pipe project is an element of a wider Polish attempt to wean itself from dependence on the Yamal pipeline, which transports gas from Russia. As Poland presently receives insufficient gas, the sooner than anticipated construction of the pipeline is advantageous. Poland had already anticipated the cessation of Russian gas shipments when its contract with Gazprom expires at the end of 2022. Mateusz Berger, the Polish minister for strategic energy infrastructure, claimed on Saturday that the project's completion will result in Poland receiving double the quantity of gas that was earlier scheduled to arrive in the fourth quarter.

On Friday, the Norwegian company Equinor stated it has entered into an agreement to sell natural gas to the Polish company PGNiG for the next ten years. The agreement covers a volume of 2.4 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year, which is approximately 15% of Poland's yearly consumption. The Baltic Pipe has a capacity of 10 billion cubic meters per year. Ahead of the upcoming winter season, the deal with Equinor boosts Poland's liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies, domestic output, and prospective imports via interconnectors with its neighbors. In a statement issued the previous week, PGNiG said that it has ensured its gas supply for the next winter.

A gas interconnector between Poland and Slovakia went into service in August. This interconnector is an important component of the North-South gas infrastructure corridor that runs between the Black Sea, the eastern Mediterranean Sea, the Adriatic Sea, and the Aegean Sea. This interconnector will greatly strengthen the EU's security of supply. Over one hundred million euros, or roughly forty percent of the total cost of the project, was supported by the European Union.

The Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS) noted in an energy assessment released in July that the corridor is also suited to transmit gas from Poland to the Danish market, further contributing to the flexibility and security of energy supply in the area. Both Poland and Lithuania have been in the forefront of efforts to propose more unity within the European Union as well as stricter limitations on Russian fossil resources.

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