The Polish Parliament (the Sejm) adopted an amendment to the Act on Stocks of Crude Oil, Petroleum Products and Natural Gas

September 2011

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According to a press release published (31 August 2011), the Sejm adopted an amendment to the Act on Stocks of Crude Oil, Petroleum Products and Natural Gas which will allow gas importers to maintain gas stocks outside Poland - in the European Union and EFTA countries.

The amendment provides for the possibility of maintaining compulsory stocks of natural gas in storage facilities located outside Poland (in the territory of the EU and EFTA (European Free Trade Association) countries). This option will be available where the supplier guarantees that the stocks will be supplied to the Polish transmission system within 40 days, which is the time limit for the supply of gas stocks stored in Poland. In accordance with the new regulations, the transmission system operator will have to assess the technical capabilities of the storage facilities in terms of the possibility of supplying gas within 40 days. The transmission system operator must notify the President of the Energy Regulatory Office if it determines that the system cannot guarantee the supply of gas within the required time. The President of the Energy Regulatory Office may verify this by contacting relevant EU institutions, and request the companies concerned to furnish relevant documents and information.

Furthermore, the amendment increases the annual limit for gas import entitling the importer to seek exemption from the requirement to maintain stocks of natural gas from 50 million to 100 million cubic metres. The requirement to maintain such stocks will apply only to companies that import gas for resale to customers in Poland.

The amendment sets out detailed provisions relating to the limitation period for imposing fines. It will be possible to suspend the running of the limitation period for imposing penalties; the existing regulations do not provide for such a possibility and allow dishonest entrepreneurs to protract administrative proceedings by using available appeal procedures until the limitation period expires. The new regulations will not make it possible to avoid penalties even in cases where administrative and judicial proceedings are deliberately prolonged.

The amendment must still be approved by the upper house of the Polish parliament (the Senate), signed by the Polish President, and then published. The exact date of its entry into force is not known yet; however, one can expect that the new regulations will come into force before the end of 2011.