– Ideally and directionally, we support Baltic Pipe as opposition, but we see threats facing the implementation of this project. The Danish side also contacted the Baltic Pipe with the opposition – said Włodzimierz Karpiński, the former Treasury Minister, vice-chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Energy and Treasury, deputy of Platforma Obywatelska in an interview with BiznesAlert.pl.
BiznesAlert.pl: It is difficult to see a bipartisan consensus around Poland’s energy policy for 2040. However, it can be seen in the case of the Baltic Pipe gas project, or the gas corridor, that is to deliver up to 10 billion cubic meters of gas from Norway via Denmark a year to Poland. Is the political consensus on this matter an argument in the conversation with partners in Denmark and Norway?
Włodzimierz Karpiński: As a member of parliament and minister in the last two terms of the Sejm, I do not recall that the current rulers so strongly supported the then government in the implementation of any project, as we support the current government in the Baltic Pipe case. This is different from the previous opposition, which currently rules. Let me just remind you how we were criticized when building a gas port, which despite the problems arose. Ideally and directionally we support Baltic Pipe, but we see the threats that face the implementation of this project. I will just add that in the Baltic Pipe case, the Danish side also contacted the opposition.
What are the threats?
Deadlines and tight schedule. I do not know of any such a large project that would have been realized on time. An example for this is that we can not build even a railway route Warsaw – Lublin on time, let alone such a mega undertaking.
Do you see the threat of the Baltic Pipe deadline by the end of 2022, when the Yamal contract expires?
Of course I do. In order to have any chance of a possible extension of gas supplies from Russia, in case of delays of Baltic Pipe, it would be necessary to open a negotiation window with Russia this year.
Does it make sense to talk now with Russia about the opening of a new negotiation window?
Every action which allows us to be in a good negotiating position, guaranteeing a good price contract and flexibility, from any contractor is recommended.
In the case of the Act on the ratification of the Agreement between the Republic of Poland and the Kingdom of Denmark regarding the Baltic Pipe project, signed in Katowice on December 11, 2018, almost all of the Sejm voted “for”. However, the opposition was against the vote on the ratification of the Agreement between the Republic of Poland and the Kingdom of Denmark on the demarcation of sea areas in the Baltic Sea, signed in Brussels on November 19, 2018. Why?
When it comes to technical matters, how to build and manage a “gas pipe” between Poland and Denmark, we as the Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska) voted for. The division of the maritime zone between Poland and Denmark is a different matter. Here we were against. Technical matters, like the construction and implementation of the Baltic Pipe project, have the full support of the opposition. We support this project from the point of view of energy security, understood as the construction of a gas alternative for the Polish economy. Regarding the division of the exclusive economic zone, we are against the division of the disputed area of 20 percent for Poland to 80 percent for Denmark. We believe that this is a matter in which our diplomacy did not rise to the challenge and this is a very delicate term.
Experts say, however, that such a division of the so-called “gray zone” between Poland and Denmark is an element of the agreement with Denmark, which gives Poland the management of a gas pipe located in their territory.
The gas pipe is a business for Norwegians, Danes and Poles, say the rulers. If it is a business, it means that all participants are winners, so in that case it is not a politician. On the other hand, the division of the disputed economic zone is 20 to 80 percent. It is an element of foreign policy, and we assess it very critically, not only in this case.
Interview by Bartłomiej Sawicki