The price will be the main determinant when purchasing LNG from the US, said Witold Waszczykowski Polish Foreign Minister in an interview for RIA Novosti. He also depreciated the significance of the spot delivery of US gas for PGNiG. However, in an authorized interview for Kommiersant he said something different. Are the minister’s words being manipulated? – asks Wojciech Jakóbik, editor in chief of BiznesAlert.pl
Waszczykowski for RIA: LNG from the US is too expensive
“We have not yet started importing gas from the US. A few months ago one or two LNG tankers from the US delivered gas and it was a pilot project, which was supposed to verify the technical possibility of importing LNG from the States,” RIA Novosti quoted the minister. “It was a success. However, today we are waiting for terms and a contract, a future contract,” he added.
On 8 June a ceremonial reception of the first LNG tanker from the USA took place at the LNG terminal in Świnoujście. Poland’s PGNiG was the buyer and Cheniere Energy the supplier. PGNiG and Polish officials who took part in the event talked about its historical significance. Maciej Woźniak, PGNiG’s Vice-President, told BiznesAlert.pl that the price of the spot delivery from the US was competitive not only in comparison to the supplies from Russia, but also to the German exchange, which means it might have been the cheapest in the region.
“We will, we want and we intend to import gas from the USA provided the price will be competitive in comparison to the offer from other sellers, like Qatar and Russia. Today the US gas is a lot more expensive. Despite that, if they (Americans – ed.) offer a contract that could compete with Qatar and other regions we might consider it,” the Pole supposedly said to the Russian agency.
He did not make it clear whether he was talking about the spot delivery to PGNiG, a long-term contract offer from Cheniere Energy, or a different contract. Even though PGNiG has already talked with Cheniere Energy about a medium-term contract, the terms remain unknown which means we cannot use it as basis for speculating on the contract’s competitiveness.
The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not quote in social media the statements revealed by RIA Novosti. Yet, it posted the interview given by Waszczykowski to the Kommiersant daily where the thesis on the US LNG being more expensive is nowhere to be found. On the contrary, there is a statement about Russian gas being expensive. Is this a coincidence? Perhaps the authorized statements published by Kommiersant are what the minister actually said and RIA Novosti manipulated his words?
In an interview for the Polish news program Wiadomości, the minister reminded the government’s position on the Nord Stream 2 project. “Nord Stream is a political tool whose main goal is to bypass Central Europe and then, perhaps stop gas transmission. Gas has been already used as a political weapon against Ukraine and Belarus and one day may be used against Poland,” the minister said.
He repeated that since the European Commission demanded solidarity when it comes to migration, Poland expects energy solidarity. In this context he supported the US sanctions against Nord Stream 2 and criticized the viewpoint of Austria and Germany which opposed them.
Waszczykowski for Kommiesant: gas from Russia too expensive
“The deliveries to Poland are currently a lot more expensive than those to Germany, even though we are getting closer to that level,” Waszczykowski said in an interview for Kommiersant. This was an important statement by the minister and an unpopular one in the Russian media. The current Russian offer for Poland is not competitive. According to PGNiG this is the most expensive element of the company’s portfolio. This is important in the context of the quotations published by RIA, which may suggest that Russian gas is cheaper and US is the most expensive. This manipulation is circulated in Russian and Polish propaganda mouthpieces owned by the Kremlin, I’ve written about this previously.
In Kommiersant, Waszczykowski admitted that currently Poland was dependant on Russian gas. He also reminded that this was why Poland decided to make an effort to diversify gas, imported LNG from Qatar and ordered one delivery from the US. The minister also mentioned Poland wanted to construct the Baltic Pipe, a gas connection with Denmark, which will allow the import of gas from Norway. “In five years we will be at least less dependent on Russian gas, or maybe even independent of it,” he pointed. “A third of our consumption can be covered with domestic production, a third with LNG deliveries and the rest will be imported via the pipe from Norway. However, we are still ready to buy gas from Russia, but at a competitive price,” he added.
“This is possible, but only if Russia offers a significantly lower price than today,” the minister said. “The talks on extending the contract have not even started, although Gazprom had sent a request to start them over a year ago,” he added.
“We are still building the infrastructure for diversification and perhaps it will be ready at the same time when the contract will run out (Yamal contract – ed.). At that point we will perhaps agree to the proposition from Russia, but only if the price is interesting,” Waszczykowski said. He stressed, he understood Russia’s goal which is to sell as much gas as possible, but for Poland it was important to break free from a source that delivered “unstable and politically motivated supplies.”
Therefore, Waszczykowski’s words in the authorized interview for Kommiersant are a direct opposite to the quotations published by RIA Novosti. The minister told the newspaper that Poland would buy gas from Russia after the Yamal contract runs out provided the offer will be competitive. The quotes from RIA suggest the minister said the deliveries from Russia were competitive and that Poland would use the US alternative only if it will be able to compete with the Russian offer. We do not know if the ministry authorized the statements from RIA circulated in Russia media, e.g. in the popular RBK radio.
What is true? Ministry needs to clarify all doubts.
If the interview for Kommiersant was the only collection of quotes from Witold Waszczykowski, they should be positively assessed because they clearly explain the Polish point of view. Still, the interview quoted by RIA Novosti has not been published in full. Instead, separate quotes are being published, for instance on the dispute about the European Commission’s decision on OPAL.
If what RIA quoted was true, it would be a testament to Waszczykowski’s poor skills who allowed himself to express careless views, which go against Poland’s current position and against what he said to Kommiersant. If his words were manipulated, then this would be yet another proof that the Russian agency RIA Novosti is the Kremlin’s information policy tool and creates propaganda. Regardless of that, the ministry should react as soon as possible before the manipulations spread to other media, including western outlets, which will quote the minister’s statements for RIA Novosti, which go against Poland’s interest.
Update: I unofficially found out that the RIA statements made by Waszczykowski were the agency’s over-interpretation, not a real opinion.