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Eyeing Russia, Poland gets first shipment of gas from Middle East

Poland has received its first shipment of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Qatar as the country seeks to reduce its dependence on Russian gas. The gas arrived at a new LNG terminal, the largest in the Baltic Sea.

The giant al-Nuaman LNG tanker carrying 210,000 cubic meters (7.5 million cubic feet) of gas arrived at the Swinoujscie port on Friday in a milestone in Poland's drive to diversify energy resources.

"For the first time ever, Poland has received a gas delivery from the Middle East," said deputy finance minister Henryk Baranowski.

"As soon as the terminal is launched, Poland will be able to import liquefied natural gas practically from any place in the world," he added.

The LNG shipment will be used to start the first technical operations at the 720 million euro ($820 million) Swinoujscie terminal, which is expected to be fully operational with a capacity of 5 billion cubic meters per year by mid-2016.

Poland has invested heavily in a series of gas pipelines and underground storage containers in

a bid to reduce its dependence on Russia,

whose Gazprom supplies the country 40 percent of its gas needs.

Another 20 percent comes from Central Asia and one-third from domestic sources.

Eventually, the Swinoujscie terminal could supply up to one-third of Poland's gas demand.

Poland has taken a hard stand against Russia and voiced concern over Moscow's aggressive actions in Ukraine and along NATO's borders amid heightened concern over it could mean for its security, especially as

Moscow has not been shy using energy as an economic and political card.

In October,

Poland and Baltic EU member states dependent on Russian energy

signed a deal to build an EU funded 558 million euro ($636 million) gas pipeline to integrate gas networks.

Poland in 2009 signed a 20-year deal with Qatar to provide gas to the Swinoujscie terminal.

cw/jil (AFP, AP)

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