Cold snap drives Polish power and gas demand to record highs

WARSAW, March 1 (Reuters) - Demand for power and gas in Poland has set new records as freezing temperatures grip the country, electricity grid operator PSE and gas firm PGNiG said on Thursday.

The cold snap has lasted a week and forecasters say it will continue until the weekend. The temperature in Warsaw was minus 10 Celsius on Thursday morning.

“Day by day we beat historical records of daily gas sales,” PGNiG deputy head Maciej Wozniak said in a statement.

State-run PGNiG said it had sold more than 78 million cubic metres of gas in the past 24 hours, which is around two thirds of a single shipment of liquefied natural gas (LNG) that PGNiG buys from Qatar.

Imported LNG, via the terminal at the Baltic Sea, is gradually reducing gas imports from Russia’s Gazprom. Last year, around 70 percent of all gas imported to Poland came from Russia, compared with 90 percent in 2015.

PGNiG also said its gas stores were almost 47 percent full, more than at the same time last year.

Power grid operator PSE said on Thursday that electricity demand set a new record for a winter evening on Wednesday at 26.45 gigawatts (GW), up from 26.32 GW on Tuesday.

Poland, which generates electricity mostly from ageing coal-fuelled power stations, faces the risk of power shortages when temperatures reach extreme levels as increased demand overloads the system.

PSE said there were no risks to power supplies at the moment. Poland’s biggest power distributors also said they had not recorded any major incidents related to the freezing temperatures. (Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko; Editing by Mark Potter)