Poland backs measures to boost gas security as energy crisis flares

The gas compressor station, a part of Polish section of the Yamal pipeline that links Russia with western Europe which is owned by a joint venture of Gazprom and PGNiG but is operated by Poland's state-owned gas transmission company Gaz-System, is seen in Gabinek near Wloclawek, Poland May 23, 2022.REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

WARSAW, July 12 (Reuters) - The Polish cabinet has backed legislation loosening gas trading rules, extending tariff protection for consumers, and contingency planning for grid operators to allow for a swift reaction if the energy crisis deteriorates.

"An exceptional situation on global energy markets caused by Russia's aggression on Ukraine and surging gas prices... create a necessity for special legal measures that allow for a real-time reaction if the situation deteriorates further," the government said on Tuesday.

Proposed measures include a suspension of the rules obliging gas companies to trade fuel on the Warsaw exchange if a gas crisis is declared, an extension of tariff protection for 7.1 million small consumers including households until 2027, and contingency planning for gas storage and transmission operators.

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"The measures will allow us to use gas storage more effectively and increase storage capacity," government spokesman Piotr Muller told a news briefing.

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February, European countries that rely on Russian gas have been struggling to cut their dependence on the fuel, build reserves and make contingency plans for winter when supplies could be strained.

On Monday, the Nord Stream 1 pipeline that transports gas from Russia to Germany entered a planned maintenance shutdown, prompting concerns about gas supplies to Europe if the outage is extended. read more

Poland, which has been cut off from Russian supplies since April, has a relatively comfortable gas balance now thanks to a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal running at full capacity and low summer demand.

However, if Russian deliveries to Europe stop, cross-border deliveries across the continent will be strained.

Existing regulations already allow the government to cut deliveries to consumers if supply security is at risk. read more

Separately, Poland plans to boost gas storage capacity by 25% to 4 billion cubic meters. read more

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Reporting by Marek Strzelecki; Editing by Jan Harvey

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