In turbulent times, Poland's government found reason to celebrate a major investment: the Baltic Sea pipeline, the Baltic Pipe, was opened on Tuesday.

The natural gas pipeline from Denmark is in a sense Poland's rival project to the German-Russian Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, which it crosses on the seabed.

Norwegian gas is to flow to Poland through the Baltic Pipe.

She reaches the Polish coast at Rewahl, about 50 kilometers from the German border.

Gerhard Gnauck

Political correspondent for Poland, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania based in Warsaw.

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President Andrzej Duda said during the inauguration that "a decades-old Polish dream" has come true with the pipeline.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called the Baltic Pipe a "pipe of security and friendship", especially in the "new era of cooperation" with Denmark and Norway.

"Nord Stream 1 was a pipeline through which Ukrainian blood also flowed," said the prime minister;

the project was an attempt to "dominate Central Europe".

EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson congratulated Poland and Denmark on this "milestone for EU infrastructure policy" and announced that the Baltic Pipe will "play an essential role in alleviating the current energy crisis".

The attending Prime Minister of Denmark, Mette Frederiksen, thanked Poland for its "leading role since the beginning of the Russian invasion" in Ukraine.

Like her, Norway's Energy Minister Terje Aasland spoke of the fact that Europe should not allow itself to be divided by the energy weapon deployed by Russia.

Natural gas is being pumped at full speed off the Norwegian coast today.

This year production has grown by eight percent, "and we are doing everything we can to ensure that it remains at this high level".

Capacity corresponds to half of Polish gas consumption

According to the Danish network operator Energinet, a good 100 kilometers of line were built in the North Sea, a further 200 kilometers across Denmark and almost 300 kilometers through the Baltic Sea to Poland in order to connect the Norwegian deposits with the Polish coast.

The costs were previously given as the equivalent of around two billion euros, which will be shared equally by both countries.

The project has a turbulent history: under Prime Minister and energy expert Jerzy Buzek, a Polish-Norwegian treaty was signed in 2001, but not ratified after an election victory for the post-communist left in Poland.

Russian gas was a little cheaper, it was said at the time.

The current government in Poland only resumed work in 2016.

Brussels had now recognized the importance of the project and gave a grant of a good ten percent.

The new tube is scheduled to start gas deliveries in October;

their capacity is ten billion cubic meters per year.

This corresponds to exactly half of the record Polish consumption in 2021;

however, only 18 billion is expected this year.

In any case, the quantity of deliveries that have already been contractually agreed is the big unknown at Baltic Pipe.

Poland's gas group has announced that it has agreed at least 3.5 billion cubic meters for 2023 and a further 2.4 billion cubic meters last week with the Norwegian company Equinor.

The coal crisis is a crucial test for the ruling party PiS

However, Poland suffers from high electricity prices, which have increased about fivefold for many consumers.

Late on Monday evening, the government presented a draft price brake: in the coming year, households should be able to buy 2,000 kilowatt hours at the price of the previous year.

2,600 kWh should apply to families with the disabled, and even 3,000 kWh to farmers and families with many children.

2000 kWh is the average consumption in the country, it said.

This measure, known as a “solidarity shield”, should cost the equivalent of almost five billion euros.

However, the greatest concern is still the supply of hard coal for the approximately three million households that heat in this way.

In the spring, the Morawiecki government announced that it would refrain from importing large amounts of Russian coal in order to push ahead with the economic cut-off from Moscow.

In the meantime, not only have prices risen sharply, but experts also doubt whether it will be possible at all to find several million tons of coal on the world market before the onset of winter and to get it to Poland and to the end consumers.

To cushion the situation, every "coal household" in the country should receive a subsidy of the equivalent of around 640 euros before the winter.

At the same time, ships bring the fuel across the oceans to Poland.

For days, government-critical media have been reporting on worried people in small towns queuing at coal dealers to buy coal or at least to be put on the waiting list.

The dispute over who is responsible for the coal crisis is a crucial test for the ruling party PiS.

Prime Minister Morawiecki is at odds with one of his deputies, Minister for State Assets Jacek Sasin.