Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk is set to seal a key gas deal with Russia’s Gazprom days after the death of opponents to the contract – including Polish President Lech Kaczynski – in a mysterious plane crash in Smolensk, Russia, reports Polskaweb.
Under the contract worth an estimated 100 billion dollars – the biggest business deal in the history of Poland – Poland is to increase its imports of Russian gas.
The contract to buy gas from Gazprom until 2037 will make Poland 100% dependent on Russian gas for the next 28 years in spite of the announcement of the discovery of huge gas reserves in Poland in April just before the memorial service in Katyn, Smolensk.
Poland could have 3 trillion cubic metres of reserves of shale gas, enough to satisfy domestic demand for more than 200 years.
Europe’s gas reserves could jump 47% as a result of Poland’s gas reserves, according to the Russian newspaper Kommersant.
Poland currently consumes 14bn cubic metres of gas a year and imports more than 70% of it from Russia.
The development of its own shale gas deposits could have allowed Poland to satisfy all its gas needs, and even export ga, becoming a competitor to Gazprom. Shale gas already accounts for up to 20% of US natural gas production.
President Lech Kaczynski and many other opposition party politicians, who were killed in a plane crash in Smolensk, had opposed the Gazprom deal.
Earlier this year, Russian energy giant Gazprom and Polish gas monopoly, PGNiG, signed agreements extending gas deliveries until 2045. Under one of the agreements, Gazprom gas supplies to Poland will increase from 8 to 11 billion cubic meters per year and the current agreement will be extended by 15 years, through 2037.
But the deal was put on ice after the opposition party had threatened legal action over the contract which was so disadvantageous to Poland’s economic and energy interests, alleging „lobbying” (bribery?).
Kaczynski said that he was „deeply worried” about the contract which would have made Poland even more dependent on Russian gas for 28 years.
It was also argued that Poland already had a contract with Russia until 2022, and there was no need to rush into a 30 year contract.
In addition, customers in Germany could face higher gas prices because of an expansion of Gazprom’s and PGNiG’s monopoly of the production and transport of gas.
US energy companies such as Exxon have also been given generous incentives by Tusk to develop the shale gas reserves – when Polish companies could use the new technology.
A verbal agreement between Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and was struck at the Katyn memorial service in Smolensk just days before the death of Kaczynski and other opponents to the deal, and formal documents are soon to be signed, says Polskaweb, asking whether Kaczynski was murdered over the gas.
Gazprom has also just begun construction on the Nord Stream pipeline, designed to pump Russian natural gas to Europe and running through the territorial waters of Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany.
It is easy to see how Gazprom, Exxon and other energy companies could benefit from removing the main obstacles to their exploitation of the gas reserves in an engineered plane crash, though investigations have yet to be concluded and are unlikely to yield results as they are in the hands of Russian and also Polish prosecutors widely believed to be in the hands of the government.
The sound of four gun shots on a video suggest members of the crew of the crashed plane were murdered. The same video was shown, however, on Russian TV shortly after the accident without shots, raising questions about which version of the video is authentic.
This is the video of the gunshots with translations etc:
It has also emerged the allegedly dead pilot stopped Kaczysnki from flying to an EU summit in Brussels by reporting sick at short notice.
No trace of the dead pilot’s body has been found at the scene of the crash. It has been speculated another pilot was in the plane.
This raises questions about which voices are on the black box and whether the voices are authentic or not.
Photos posted by Polskaweb show the sun shining on Smolensk airfield just 40 minutes before the crash, which was allegedly due to dense fog. Photos taken one hour later show the runway lamps being changed – also in sunny conditions.
April 21, 2010
By Jane Burgermeister