EU Effort to Quit Russian Gas, 900km gas pipeline from Norway to Poland resumes

Denmark resumes construction of the 900 km gas pipeline linking Norway and Poland. This pipeline will help Poland decrease its dependence on Russian natural gases.

Europe is working to eliminate its dependence on Russian gas. Experts say it will take many years.

Middelfart, central Denmark, saw work resumed on the Baltic Pipe project. This 900-kilometre link was primarily intended to reduce Poland’s dependence on Russian natural gases.

Soren Juul Larsen (head of the project at Danish energy infrastructure operator Energinet) stated that “Officially it’s also for having the gas in Denmark system but mainly also to help our good neighbours’ gas systems and to our Polish good friends,”

After a nine-month suspension, the Danish environmental authority, which was concerned about the impact of the project on the local bat and mouse populations, granted permission to continue construction just one week after the invasion.

Trine Villumsen Berlinerg, a researcher at Danish Institute for International Studies, stated that the pipeline was stopped due to a lack of permission regarding the protection of rare species and nature.

“We were expecting it to soon be approved but of course, the war made it a more pressing issue,” Villumsen said.

Construction of the partially submerged pipeline was first planned almost 20 years ago. Its construction began in 2018. The pipeline is expected to begin operations in October and be fully operational by January 1, 2023.

Juul Larsen, a visiting contractor, explained that “we really have a great cooperation with all contractors to accelerate (and) do everything we can to preserve the schedule.”

The pipeline has a transport capacity of approximately 10 billion cubic meters of gas per year. This should allow Poland to consume around half of its consumption. Poland announced in 2013 that it would terminate its agreement with Gazprom.

This may be good news for Poland, but it could cause problems for other European countries that are trying to get rid of Russian gas.

Norway, Europe’s second-largest gas supplier, is currently supplying at its full capacity. This means that more gas to Poland will mean less gas for the rest.

Zongqiang Luo, a Rystad Energy expert, said that the project would benefit Poland, but could also reduce Norway’s gas exports to the UK or Germany.

He also noted that many long-term agreements between Russia and European suppliers can be renewed for an additional 10 to 15 years.

Although the European Union has not resisted the calls to immediately ban Russian gas, it announced plans to reduce imports by two-thirds this year and eliminate them completely before the end of the ten years.

Norway is at its full capacity, the UK and Dutch fields are in decline and Russian gas declared unsuitable. Europe is now looking for gas from further away. This includes liquefied natural gases (LNG) that can be transported by ship from the USA, Qatar, or Africa.

However, such imports will require large LNG terminals to convert it back into natural gas, or at least the purchase of floating storage regasification (FSRU) units.

Germany urgently relaunched three LNG terminals projects that were previously considered low priority, after the Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline was halted from service.

The first is expected to be completed by winter 2023-24, but the second two will not be finished before 2026.

Estonia and Finland announced plans to lease a terminal ship for import. Estonia and the Baltic countries have announced that they have stopped importing Russian gas since April 1.

Spain and Portugal, both from southern Europe are strengthening an alternative supply route in order to help Europe get rid of Russian gas.

The port of Sines is the largest port in Portugal and plans to double its capacity for its gas terminal within two years.

Spain, which has large LNG terminals and is connected to Algeria via a pipeline, could be another source of supply for Europe. However, this would require significant work to improve the connections with the rest EU, particularly via France.

Another option is to link Europe to the gas coming from the eastern Mediterranean. Large reserves of gas have been found off Israel and Cyprus in the last 20 years.

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