Poland agrees to talks on Russia gas deal

WARSAW, March 11 (Reuters) - Poland gave up ground in talks to resume normal gas supplies from Russia, agreeing on Wednesday to renegotiate terms of a 1993 agreement governing gas transit terms between the two neighbours.

Poland, which has seen its imported gas levels remain below the contracted ones since the Russia-Ukraine row in January, was reluctant to discuss the intergovernmental deal, pushing instead for an agreement between its dominant gas distributor PGNiG PGNI.WA and Russia's gas giant Gazprom GAZP.MM

Polish officials fear Moscow will use such talks to wrestle concessions on unresolved issues on natural gas transit through the European Union’s largest ex-communist member and concerning Europolgaz, which oversees the Yamal pipeline in Poland.

The issue was among several discussed by a bilateral commission in Warsaw on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“The protocol (after the meeting) includes a point which says that Poland and the Russian Federation pledge to start talks focusing on an intergovernmental gas supply agreement as soon as possible,” Deputy Economy Minister Marcin Korolec told a news conference.

After the January disruption, Gazprom GAZP.MM temporarily increased gas deliveries, but last week PGNiG said it was only receiving 78 percent of contracted gas from Russia. Poland receives most of its gas via Belarus through the Yamal pipeline.

PGNiG and Gazprom are also discussing a temporary solution for delivering gas through the end of 2009.

Poland imports about 66 percent of gas it uses with the rest coming from domestic sources.

“At the same time, Gazprom and PGNiG are supposed to hold talks on how to restart the supplies again as soon as possible,” Korolec added. (Reporting by Anna Sterczynska, writing by Gabriela Baczynska; editing by Guy Dresser)