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German company to offer western gas supplies Poland

A German company is today expected to offer Poland a way to become less dependent on Russian gas, in a move that is reportedly supported by the German government which is trying to ease the hostility between Warsaw and Moscow.

German daily Handelsblatt reports that Wintershall - a daughter company of energy giant BASF - is to propose that Poland gets access to Western gas. This would be possible using the planned new north-south pipeline 'opal' which for almost 500 km will run parallel to the Polish border. „In this way it would be possible at several points to connect Poland up to the west European gas network,” Ingo Neubert, the head of Wingas Transport, a part of Wintershall, told Handelsblatt.

This is not the first time a German company has suggested Poland tap into gas distribution pipelines but until now Warsaw has always refused saying it will still be dependent on Russian gas. With this offer, however, it would have the chance to access gas from the North Sea. The newspaper reports that the German government - currently running the EU - is in favor of the gas offer as it wants to ease the persistent tensions between Warsaw and Moscow. At the moment Russia is blocking meat imports from Poland saying they do not meet hygiene standards - a charge Poland rejects as politically motivated. In turn Warsaw has blocked talks on a new EU-Russia treaty that would, amongst other things, also govern energy relations.

With Russia increasingly seen as likely to use its vast energy resources for political ends, Poland has made energy solidarity one of its key issues at the EU level, repeatedly calling for an energy solidarity mechanism that guarantees energy security. Relations between Warsaw and Berlin on this issue are also fraught. Poland was furious that Germany went ahead and negotiated the Baltic gas pipeline from Russia to Germany - a pipeline that runs under the Baltic Sea avoiding the Baltic states and Poland. (