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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EU Clears Poland’s Long-Term Gazprom Deal

WARSAW — The European Union does not see any reason to block a long-delayed gas delivery deal between Poland and Russia, the block's new energy commissioner, Guenther Oettinger, said Friday.

Polish media have speculated that the EU could object to the agreement, which ensures gas deliveries to Poland for the next 22 years, because it fears that the deal breaches EU rules on third-party access to gas transit.

"There are no obstacles for Poland to sign the supply deal," Oettinger told a news conference in Warsaw. "A working group has been settled to check the deal's compliance with EU rules. … Arrangement in this respect will be made by midyear."

Last month, Poland's government approved a long-delayed gas deal with Russia ensuring higher deliveries until 2037, with the settlement still awaiting a final rubber stamp.

Warsaw faced an annual shortfall of 2.5 billion cubic meters of gas as of 2010. The new accord with export monopoly Gazprom has been delayed repeatedly because of lengthy negotiations and a spat between the Russian gas giant and Poland's gas monopoly, PGNiG.

Poland imports about 65 percent to 70 percent of the 14 billion cubic meters of its annual gas consumption from Russia.

Oettinger, who became Europe's energy commissioner in February, has reached out to Moscow since taking the post, including being friendlier to the Gazprom-led South Stream pipeline.

"Security is not only about energy — we need other products to survive too," Oettinger said in an interview last week. "Russia is an important neighbor and partner."