RPT-Poland expects gas demand to rise 60% as it reduces coal

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WARSAW, March 30 (Reuters) - Poland’s demand for gas will jump by 60% over the next 10-13 years from around 20 billion cubic metres annually, gas grid operator Gaz-System said, as the coal-reliant country sees gas as a transition fuel before switching to nuclear and renewables.

“In the next 10-13 years, we will see an increase in gas demand in Poland by around 60%,” Gaz-System said in a statement.

Piotr Naimski, the government official responsible for energy infrastructure, told Reuters: “A surge in gas demand can be expected between 2024 and 2030, when new gas-fired power plants will be put into operation. This will initially be a strong growth, and then, in the years following 2030, demand will remain at a stable level.”

Poland is developing new gas infrastructure projects to be able to survive without deliveries from Russia’s Gazprom after 2022, when its supply deal expires.

It is expanding its liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Swinoujscie to 7.5 bcm, building a 10 bcm gas link with Norway and plans a floating storage regasification unit in Gdansk with a capacity ranging from 4.5-12.0 bcm or more, Naimski said.

“We will be able to flexibly approach the volume of deliveries ... we can define gas as a transition fuel, but this transition period will be several dozen years,” Naimski added.

Poland assumes that by 2040 gas will account for 30% of power production, wind for 30%, solar 5% and nuclear 16%. Warsaw plans to have its first nuclear power plant ready in 2033.

“We do not want to allow systemic dependence on energy imports. For this we need gas, because gas power plants can be built faster than the schedule for building a nuclear power plant,” Naimski said.

Poland, Bulgaria and seven other countries have stepped up their push to ensure natural gas is classed as a sustainable investment under EU finance rules, warning Brussels its latest proposal falls short, a document seen by Reuters showed on Monday. (Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko; editing by David Evans)