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Running Out of Gas
Poland Reports Gazprom Supply Disruption

Poland’s gas monopoly is reporting a roughly 20 percent decline in Russian gas supplies, and a German gas firm has reported slightly lower flows as well. The timing of this development has raised eyebrows in Brussels, where discussions over implementing further sanctions against Russia are underway. Reuters reports:

“This is a warning signal for the EU not to go any further with the sanctions,” said Pawel Poprawa of the Institute for Energy Studies in Warsaw, when asked about the reduced gas supplies to Poland.

Gazprom has insisted time and again that, despite its decision to halt flows to Ukraine, the rest of Europe’s supplies would remain untouched. Other countries have been reversing gas flows to help supply Ukraine, but this cut to Polish supplies seems to be once again isolating Kiev:

Polish gas pipeline operator Gaz-System said the reduction in supplies from Russia had forced it temporarily to stop re-exporting natural gas to Ukraine.

Gazprom, for its part, has denied any cuts in flows to Poland, but Polish Deputy Economy Minister Ilona Antoniszyn-Klik today announced Warsaw’s intent to seek North American supplies. “We are ready to find trade partners in the United States and Canada, who would supply gas to the newly-constructed LNG terminal in Swinoujscie,” she said.

For now, the silver lining is that these supply disruptions are happening during the summer, when natural gas demand is low. But as temperatures drop, the need for Russian gas will spike, and as Poland is finding out, that’s not a concern unique to Ukraine. North America’s gas supplies are booming, and American and Canadian shale gas can be of some use to Europe. But the best way to shore up one’s energy security is to exploit domestic reserves, and on that front there’s plenty of room for improvement—fracking would be a good place to start.

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  • Alex K.

    Strictly speaking, it’s not that Gazprom is cutting supplies to Poland in absolute terms. Gazprom is refusing to fulfill Poland’s legitimate request for an increased flow, according to the Russian daily *Kommersant*. Apparently, demand for gas has grown this week in Poland due to colder weather. Accordingly, Poland asked Gazprom for higher flow rates and when Gazprom refused, Poland had to cut exports to Ukraine to serve domestic customers. Basically Gazprom is saying, “We’re going to supply enough gas for your own consumption but will make sure you don’t have any extra for reexport to Ukraine.”

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