Poland may draw gas from Germany at border point from April

FRANKFURT Wed Feb 5, 2014 11:45am EST

FRANKFURT Feb 5 (Reuters) - Poland's first gas link from the west, aimed at loosening its dependence on Russia, will move a step closer with the opening of eastwards flows from a transfer station on its German border.

German gas grid company Gascade said on Wednesday it will open the facility on April 1.

Poland, where gas consumption is growing, had watched with distrust German-Russian cooperation on the giant Nord Stream pipeline under the Baltic Sea.

This allowed Russia to increasingly bypass Ukraine as a transit country, but in the process meant it could also avoid more shipments through Yamal, that runs via Belarus and Poland into Germany.

By expanding the station in Mallnow near the border town Frankfurt an der Oder, Gascade has created a capacity for pumping 620,000 cubic metres per hour eastwards, it said in a statement issued jointly with Polish transmission system operator Gaz-System.

Mallnow opened in 1996 to receive mainly Russian gas from the Polish section of the international Yamal pipeline and send it on through the Jagal German connecting pipeline operated by Gascade in the direction of western Germany.

The "reverse flow" option puts into practice EU regulations enacted by the European Parliament and Council to raise eastern European gas supply security.

Gascade transports the equivalent of a third of German gas demand over some 2,200 kilometres, so the move is small in terms of the European gas markets coming together.

A spokeswoman for Gascade said that the size of capacity was roughly equal to annual deliveries for a town of 35,000 inhabitants. The cost of the installation was a small one-digit million euro figure, she said.

Capacities will be auctioned by the European gas capacity platform Prisma for which customers have to register with Gascade up to Feb. 10, with registration for Gaz-System customers opening from that date, it said. (Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by William Hardy)

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