Poland called on the EU to be mindful of countries in need of energy resources for winter in its blanket proposal to member states to cut back on gas consumption, Anna Moskwa, Poland’s climate and environment minister, indicated on Tuesday.
She argued that the energy solidarity mechanism proposed by the EU must not lead to a reduction in energy security of any EU member state in the face of reduced supplies from Russia due to sanctions applied because of the Russian-Ukraine war.
“We cannot talk about energy security based on a forced solution. Solidarity should be shown above all to those in need, not to those who can cope on their own,' she said.
She warned of the necessity to maintain EU solidarity in response to Russian aggression, including in the field of energy, saying “solidarity requires that we act in a spirit of cooperation and coordinate actions to alleviate the crisis.”
The EU regulation, to be adopted by the Council, foresees a reduction target on member states, namely a 15% reduction in gas consumption from now until next spring.
However, Moskwa said that each country should be able to determine its own energy security strategy.
'We do not believe this would be necessary or useful. As for Polish achievements, since the beginning of the energy crisis, Poland has been actively preparing, while in many other Member States gas consumption has remained at a similar level or even higher than in previous years. Poland had already prepared for a potential crisis filling up its storage facilities,' Moskwa explained.
The Polish minister said that Warsaw has long indicated that Moscow pursues a policy of energy blackmail against Europe.
'The issue of ensuring the EU's energy security and diversifying the directions of supplies of strategic raw materials to the Member States was indicated by us as the overriding objective of the EU energy policy. We talked about it not only on the occasion of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. Unfortunately, some of the EU Member States until February 24 this year did not notice, or pretended not to notice, the seriousness of these problems,' she said.
In response to Russia’s suspension of gas supplies to Poland, she said that Poland was ready for this move, as it already planned to terminate gas imports from Russia by the end of 2022.
This plan has been consistently implemented since 2015 when the government took steps to diversify sources of natural gas supplies through the culmination of key infrastructure projects this year to cover natural gas demand from directions other than Russia.
This plan will also allow for regional cooperation in the natural gas sector and energy security, thanks to Poland’s geographical location, allowing Central and Eastern Europe to gain broad access to the global LNG market and deposits from the Norwegian Continental Shelf.
The Poland-Lithuania connection plays a key role in this, enabling gas imports from the LNG terminal in Klaipeda, Lithuania but plans are also afoot for more pipeline connections and upgrades to LNG infrastructure.
'This year, gas pipeline connections with Norway (Baltic Pipe) and Slovakia will be commissioned. We are similarly active in the area of LNG reception infrastructure. The regasification capacity of the LNG terminal in Swinoujscie is being upgraded from 6.2 billion cubic meters to 8.3 billion cubic meters per year, and in the next five years the new Polish terminal in Gdansk should also be put into operation,' Moskwa said.
Moskwa advocated for the capacity expansion in underground gas storage facilities in Poland from the current 3.23 billion cubic meters to a total capacity of well over 4 billion cubic meters.
- 'Rethink unwise decisions'
Moskwa elaborated on the difficulty in attaining climate goals and plans for emission reductions as set out by the EU through the ETS (European Emissions Trading System) in the face of the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis in Europe.
'The Polish energy transformation is a transformation of dialogue. Poland does not deny the need to transform, preserve natural resources and maintain biodiversity. Polish energy policy and transformation, contrary to European documents, is well thought out. We strongly support all these directions, but we are unable to find a justification for all the dates that we have on these paths, especially in the face of the war in Ukraine,' she said.
As Russia is using energy as a weapon, she said that the energy transformation cannot take place in isolation from the social situation or the security of states.
She said the goal of protecting the planet must be achieved in a manner that is acceptable to society and therefore recommended that at this stage of the energy crisis, Poland proposes to EU partners to suspend ineffective climate instruments and reform them.
'The ETS should be suspended immediately, at least for a while, as should the regulations that hinder the burning of coal in the EU and its use in the economy,” she said.
She added that the shutdown of nuclear power plants, in some cases months before winter for some countries when the difficult situation on the EU gas market is known, should not go ahead.
“We urge you to rethink such unwise decisions that could lead to an even greater energy crisis across the EU. If energy security is fully ensured, we are ready to cooperate in a spirit of solidarity within the current legal framework,' she said.
By Murat Temizer