In Between the Major Powers (II)
Liquid Gas from Qatar
The most recent Polish-German dispute is over Warsaw's plans to build a liquid natural gas (LNG) terminal in Świnoujście, close to Poland's border with Germany. The terminal is set to go into operation by mid-2014 and be capable of transferring initially approximately five billion m3 and later 7.5 billion m3 of LNG. Poland's LNG consummation this year is estimated at around 14 billion m3. Perspectively the Świnoujście terminal could account for one-third of Poland's gas needs. The terminal can, in principle, receive LNG from any liquid gas supplier, with Qatar being most often mentioned. With this project, Poland is seeking to extract itself from German-Russian control over its energy supplies. The "Baltic Pipeline" (Nord Stream), currently in construction, has devalued Poland, as a transit territory and entrusted Germany with the apportionment of Russian natural gas to the rest of Europe. In Poland, this power leverage raises historically based fears of a German-Russian pincer - as long as Poland has no alternative to Russian natural gas.
According to US media, Berlin is seeking to sabotage the construction of the Świnoujście Terminal. In the German capital, it is said that the terminal could endanger ecological interests of the Federal Republic of Germany, which is why its construction must be immediately submitted to a careful inspection. This conforms to the regulations of the so-called Espoo-Convention, a United Nations agreement signed in 1991. Countries bordering along the Nord Stream pipeline evoked the Espoo Convention to have the "Baltic Sea Pipeline" inspected for its ecological compatibility, which resulted in a clearance certificate. Berlin has vetoed Poland's rightful EU subventions for the terminal. According to Warsaw, the German objections are a pretext. The most important effect is that construction will probably not begin on schedule this month and delayed several years. This would provide Germany and Russia enough time to complete Nord Stream forcing Poland into total dependence on the pipeline. It is being reminded that the EU Energy Commissioner is Günther Oettinger from Germany.