Poland's PGNiG does not expect to be 'forced' to buy Russian gas after 2022

WARSAW, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Polish gas company PGNiG does not expect it will have to buy Russian gas after its long-term contract with Gazprom expires in 2022, but does not exclude spot purchases, the company’s chief executive Pawel Majewski told Reuters.

Poland has taken steps to reduce its reliance on Russian gas supplies by buying LNG from Qatar, the United States and elsewhere. PGNiG has on many occasions said it will not extend its current contract with Russia’s Gazprom when it expires in 2022.

“We assume that after 2022 we will not be forced to buy gas from Gazprom. This is our strategy. That is why we are diversifying gas supplies to Poland - to ensure energy security,” Majewski said. “Of course, spot purchases from Gazprom in the future cannot be ruled out,” he added.

On Thursday PGNiG said it submitted its opinion in the certification procedure for the Nord Stream 2 operator, saying the pipeline will increase threats to the security of gas supplies to the European Union.

“If the pipeline has to function, since its construction has been physically completed, we want it to operate in accordance with European law,” Majewski said.

“In our opinion, from a legal point of view, it is not possible for Nord Stream 2 AG to be certified as an independent operator of the pipeline. Of course, in the event of unfavorable decisions, we will use all legal options,” he added.

European gas prices have hit record highs as tight supply has collided with economies emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, amid surging CO2 prices and lower-than-expected gas deliveries from Russia.

Majewski expects this might lead to another gas price hike for households in Poland that could come into effect after the year ends. Poland’s regulator (URE) sets tariffs for retail consumers, while prices for enterprises are not regulated.

“It is too early to judge (the scale of a potential hike), but I think it is likely to be above 10%,” Majewski said, emphasising it will depend on the motion submitted not by PGNiG directly, but by its subsidiary, and on the regulator’s decision.

Reporting by Anna Koper; Editing by David Evans