Poland is determined to end its reliance on Russian energy within the next few years, and increasingly turning toward the United States in the process, the New York Times reports.
Warsaw’s policy is part of a broader effort in Europe to diversify energy supply amid rising dependence on Russian gas. The United States, on the other hand, has an abundance of natural gas from the shale boom and a political incentive to ease Russia’s energy chokehold on Europe, the newspaper writes.
American companies now have contracts to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) that span decades and promise to supply Poland with the equivalent of about half of its current gas imports.
“Given a choice of suppliers and a good commercial deal, Poland was happy to buy American,” said David L. Goldwyn, who served as the State Department’s international energy envoy in the Obama administration and now heads an advisory firm, Goldwyn Global Strategies.
Ten years ago, a conflict between Russia and Ukraine left Poland and some of its neighbors in the cold when the Russian energy giant Gazprom shut down a critical pipeline for three weeks over a politically tinged pricing dispute. Much of the gas that Russia exports to Europe flows through Ukraine.
The crisis prompted Poland to build a $1 billion LNG terminal, with help from the European Union.
“The strategy of the company is just to forget about Eastern suppliers and especially about Gazprom,” said Piotr Wozniak, president of state-run PGNiG, which dominates Poland’s gas market.
Gas deliveries from Qatar began in 2015, which have been supplemented with one-off shipments from producers like Norway and the United States. PGNiG says the liquid natural gas shipments rose by almost 60 percent last year compared with 2017, squeezing imports from Russia and the East down by 6 percent. Russia currently supplies roughly half of Poland’s fuel.