Poland says Baltic Pipe gas supplies may be double expected level in Q4

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland should get double the amount of gas originally expected through the new Baltic Pipe from Norway in the fourth quarter thanks to work in Denmark being completed earlier than expected, a top Polish official was quoted as saying on Saturday.

The forecast came after Danish system operator Energinet said on Saturday the pipeline could be commissioned at full capacity from the end of November instead of Jan. 1 thanks to good progress on work in Denmark, a boost for Poland as it scrambles to replace Russian gas.

Poland was cut off from Russian gas supplies in April for refusing to pay in roubles.

"We ... received positive information from Denmark, despite the work still being underway, the full capacity of the gas pipeline is to be reached earlier than originally assumed," Mateusz Berger, the Polish government official in charge of energy infrastructure, told state-run news agency PAP.

"This should make it possible to double the amount of gas sent to Poland via the new route in the last quarter of this year."

The Baltic Pipe, which opens next week, is the centrepiece of a Polish strategy to diversify away from Russian gas that began years before Moscow's February invasion of Ukraine triggered a global energy crisis.

Norway's Equinor said on Friday it had entered into a 10-year agreement to sell natural gas to Poland's PGNiG in a deal covering a volume of 2.4 billion cubic metres per year, or around 15% of Polish annual consumption.

The gas will be transported through the Baltic Pipe, which has an annual capacity of 10 bcm.

The contract with Equinor supplements Poland's LNG supply, domestic output and potential imports via interconnectors with its neighbours ahead of the coming winter.

(Reporting by Alan Charlish; editing by Clelia Oziel)