The head of the Polish oil and gas company PGNiG, Paweł Majewski, believes that the gas crisis in Moldova “clearly demonstrates” the risks of excessive dependence on Russia’s Gazprom.
In October, Moldovan authorities declared a state of emergency after Gazprom cut supplies to this Eastern European country by a third due to the expiration of its contract and demanded that Moldova continue to pay twice as much for gas as before.
Sources familiar with the content of the talks told the Financial Times that Gazprom was trying to make political concessions from Moldova’s new pro-European government in exchange for cheaper gas. Gazprom denies this information and insists that the talks were held “exclusively on commercial terms.”
On Friday, October 29, the parties signed a new long-term gas supply contract. However, a copy that fell into the hands of Financial Times journalists shows that Moldova still made geopolitical concessions.
Paweł Majewski believes that this episode should be an alarming signal for Europe, which buys 35% of its gas from Gazprom. He warns that the recently completed Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline, which is awaiting permission from Germany’s Federal Grid Agency to start work, will put Europe in a more vulnerable position.
“This situation [in Moldova] is symbolic. It clearly demonstrates what Europe may face, which is largely handing over its gas infrastructure to Russia,” Majewski told the FT.
“This is proof of what we have been saying for many months – that, unfortunately, the main gas supplier from the east is promoting its interests in a rude way. “Gazprom cannot be considered a friend of Europe.”
Before Moldova signed a new contract with Gazprom, PGNiG agreed to supply almost 2 million cubic meters of gas to this country. This was the first time that the former Soviet republic, located between Ukraine and Romania, received natural gas not from Russia.
Majewski acknowledged that a batch of gas from Poland is only a small part of the billion cubic meters of gas that Moldova consumes annually. However, he noted that in the future, PGNiG is ready to supply more gas if needed. “We are ready to help, and we will do it if additional volumes of gas are needed.”
In addition to the confrontation with Moldova, Gazprom has been sharply criticized for limiting its gas supplies to Europe this year to only those stipulated in long-term contracts, and for stocks in its gas storage facilities on the continent being extremely low on the eve of winter.
In October, the German Ministry of Economy stated that the start of gas supplies to Europe by Nord Stream 2 would not threaten the energy security of Germany and the European Union as a whole. The ministry’s analytical report is likely to be the basis for the German Federal Network Agency to issue a permit to launch the pipeline.
According to Majewski, Poland handed over 600 pages of documents to the German Ministry of Economy outlining its concerns about Nord Stream 2, and it was “extremely surprised” that the ministry analyzed all this information in four working days and still “gave its blessing “ to start the gas pipeline.
Majewski added that if necessary, PGNiG is ready to go to court to protect its interests. “We are waiting for the decision of the Federal Network Agency, and as one of the parties we will appeal all decisions that do not meet European legal standards. We are also a participant in this market, and we want to be treated as equals. We will use all available legal means to exercise our rights,” Majewski said.