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    UPDATED: Polish Treasury Minister Sacked Over Chaos with Gazprom Memorandum



Prime Minister of Poland Donald Tusk has sacked Treasury Minister Mikolaj Budzanowski for failing to inform him about a deal with Russian gas giant Gazprom.


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UPDATED: Polish Treasury Minister Sacked Over Chaos with Gazprom Memorandum

Mikolaj Budzanowski, shale gas enthusiast and staunch supporter of gas diversification was fired today, in connection with the Gazprom memorandum confusion.

"In order to re-establish the Treasury Ministry's full control over key state-controlled companies, I've decided to dismiss Mikolaj Budzanowski" – said Donald Tusk. Prime Minister Tusk appointed Wlodzimierz Karpinski as Budzanowski’s successor and announced that his government would probably concentrate energy policy to one Ministry. 

In the beginning of April the Minister of Treasury, overseeing state-controlled companies, including the Polish gas company PGNiG, claimed he was surprised by the memorandum with Gazprom.

The document was signed in St. Petersburg, by the CEO of Gazprom Alexey Miller and on behalf of EuRoPol Gaz, by Miroslaw Dobrut, who is also VP of PGNiG.

Under the agreement both sides would exchange information and cooperate in order to prepare a feasibility study of a 15bcm/year connection from Belarus via Poland to Slovakia, that, according to the Gazprom CEO would be operational at the end of this decade .

The pipeline, called Yamal 2 or - less formally - “Pyeremychka”, would bypass Ukraine and, according to some experts, complete the net of Gazprom controlled gas transit corridors in Eastern and Central Europe, allowing the Russian gas monopoly to exert political and pricing pressure. 

Mikolaj Budzanowski underlined any new gas pipelines in Poland must be controlled by the state owned operator and function under the EU open access formula. “I don`t know anything” – commented the PM Donald Tusk and repeated that Poland would not take part in any “political projects.”

After two weeks, Poland’s PM is explaining that he made the decision to fire Budzanowski after studying a special report, reviewing circumstances of the memorandum scandal.

The Treasury Minister was not fired for misleading the Prime Minister, because the report, prepared by the new interior minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz, found no proof Mikolaj Budzanowski had been informed on the memo. Instead, as Mr. Tusk explained, the minister was sacked for not being informed, and not effectively controlling the state-controlled gas firm, which apparently struck a deal with Gazprom behind his back.

Donald Tusk also recommended that new minister should consider personnel changes at PGNiG.

The ex-minister was considered the most active supporter of shale gas development  within the government, although some experts criticized him for being too optimistic, i.e. promising a quick start of a production phase.

New treasury minister Wlodzimierz Karpinski is a former chemical plant board member, Junior Interior Minister and most recently Deputy Administration Minister. He comes from Pulawy in the Lubelskie region.

Mr.Karpinski assured his priority would be an energy security, a term which in Poland is understood mainly as securing non-Russian and cheaper sources of gas.

At the same time, one of the PO party leaders, who was supporting Mr. Karpinski in the latest elections, declared that new pipeline with Russian gas could be at least discussed.

The special report, established the memo with Gazprom had been discussed for weeks, what confirms a report by NaturalGasEurope published in November 2012.

According to the interior minister report, the deputy Prime Minister and junior coalition party leader Janusz Piechocinski had met with Miroslaw Dobrut of EurRoPol Gaz and PGNiG before the memo was signed.

Today, PM Donald Tusk declared that negotiations within a coalition would be needed to establish a new Ministry or office responsible for energy issues.