The PL-SK project has been implemented by the Slovak GTS operator Eustream a.s. and the Polish state company GAS-SYSTEM S.A. since 2018 and provides for the transportation of 5.7 billion cubic meters of gas per year in the direction of Poland and 4.7 billion cubic meters of gas per year to Slovakia. The pipeline has length of 164 km and a diameter of DN1000. The pipeline route runs between the Slovak town Veľké Kapušany, with 103 km on Slovak territory and Polish town Strachocina, with 61 km through Polish territory. The cost of the project is estimated at EUR 270 million. 40% of the cost of the project, which is considered an important part of the gas transport corridor “North-South”, was financed by the European Commission; EUR 138 billion are planned to be spent by Slovakia.
Due to the project implementation, the Slovak side expects to (built Baltic Pipeline between Poland and Denmark, with a capacity of up to 10 billion cubic meters per year) get the opportunity to enter the market of Norwegian natural gas with a proposal to transport it to the south in the interests of the CEE countries by the end of 2022. Polish LNG terminal in town Świnoujście is an alternative source of loading of transport capacities of the Slovak GTS, which can be available by the end of 2021.
The PL-SK pipeline is also expected to be used for transportation of renewable gases (biomethane, synthetic methane, hydrogen); it is a part of a promising pan-European hydrogen transportation system European Hydrogen Backbone.
The interconnection of the gas systems of Poland and Slovakia will have significant impact on the natural gas market of the CEE region and will ensure energy security of the Slovak Republic. Access to (alternative to Russian) Norwegian continental shelf resources and access to global LNG supply chains can, if necessary, provide for the internal needs of the Slovak Republic in the natural gases amounting to 5 billion cubic meters per year.
The Slovak Republic is consistently working to consolidate the country’s transit role by increasing the level of interconnection of the Slovak GTS with regional gas markets of Europe. Such energy policy of the Slovak side is characterized by an attempt to establish a pragmatic relationship with all key players in the European gas market, primarily with Russia, which remains the main supplier of natural gas to CEE countries. By using the commercial capabilities of PL-SK at European gas markets, in the medium term, Slovakia can position itself as a CEE gas hub, offering neighboring countries new gas transportation opportunities and services.
To achieve this ambitious goal, in the east of the country near the interstate connection point Veľké Kapušany the underground gas storages are formed (UGS) with the possibility of storage in a mixture with natural gas as well hydrogen with a total volume of 339 million cubic meters of gas and daily capacity of gas injection / lifting of 3.75 million cubic meters. Commissioning of the first queues of the object are planned for 2023; completion of widowhood is expected in 2025. Currently Slovak underground storage facilities with a capacity of 3 billion cubic meters of gas are concentrated on territory of the Vienna Basin in western Slovakia. The expansion of transport opportunities of gas interconnector “Slovakia Hungary” is ongoing to up to 5.3 billion cubic meters of gas per year in both directions via the Veľké Zlievce interstate connection point. The input bandwidth at the connection point Lanžhot (on border with the Czech Republic) is expanded, which will lead to the increase in the amount of physical gas transportation through the territory of Slovakia in the direction of exit points Baumgarten (Austria), Budince (Ukraine), Veľké Zlievce.
At the same time, the Slovak Republic is trying to maintain the role of a leading EU gas carrier partner of Moscow and the corresponding transit receipts to Slovak budget. Remaining the largest taxpayer in Slovakia, the operator of the Slovak GTS company Eustream in 2020 transported 56.98 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas and thus ensured a third of Russia’s energy consumption in the EU. The Slovak side currently operates under two long-term contracts, signed between Eustream and Gazprom LLC:
until 2028 for the transportation of Russian gas through the interstate point of connection on the border with Ukraine (Veľké Kapušany);
until 2050 for the transportation of Russian gas coming through the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline through Germany and the Czech Republic to the interstate interconnection point on the border with Austria (Baumgarten.)
According to our experts, the existing contract obligations of Gazprom to Slovakia in the eastern direction may also contribute to further use of the Ukrainian GTS to transport Russian gas after 2024, which is completely in line with the interests of the Slovak side.