Czechs, Poles ask for EU funding for revived gas interconnector project

PRAGUE, Sept 30 (Reuters) - The Czech Republic and Poland asked the European Commission on Friday to provide funding for a new gas pipeline that would connect the Czech Republic to the Polish network and its LNG terminals, the Czech Industry Ministry said.

The Stork II interconnection plan had previously been abandoned but Europe's energy crisis and attempts to replace Russian gas led the countries to revitalise the project when the Czech and Polish prime ministers met in April this year.

"A direct connection to Polish liquefied natural gas terminals will allow us to secure gas supplies to our territory from suppliers other than Russian," Czech Industry Minister Jozef Sikela said in a statement.

"In addition, this interconnection will lead to a reduction in the cost of gas transportation, and therefore the final price for consumers."

He said the two governments believed that a joint request with Poland would have a larger chance of approval from the EU's REPowerEU funds meant for ending the continent's dependence on Russian energy.

The ministry said that the pipeline, which would run from Bezmerov in the Czech Republic to Kedzierzyn in Poland, could start operating in 2026.

The Czech Republic and Poland are now connected by the Stork pipeline which has low capacity and only allows for flows in one direction, from the Czech Republic to Poland.

The Czech Republic's gas suppliers have mostly been buying Russian gas through private contracts rather then directly from Russia's Gazprom (GAZP.MM).

The supplies were mostly through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline until the reduction and eventual cessation of those flows in the past months, prior to damage to the pipeline earlier this week.

At present, Czechs receive gas through Germany from Norway and LNG shipments to west European terminals.

Reporting by Jan Lopatka, Editing by Louise Heavens

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