* Link would help join LNG terminals in Poland and Croatia
* Connection could start operating in 2017
* Part of plan to boost energy security
WARSAW, April 4 Poland's and Slovakia's gas network operators have selected a contractor for a study of a planned gas link that would be part of a corridor joining liquefied gas terminals in Poland and Croatia.
Poland's Gaz-System and Slovakia's Eustream aim to boost energy security in central and southeastern Europe by creating a regional gas market and diversify away from Russian supplies.
"We want to have the business analysis ready this year and make further decisions on conducting a feasibility study next year," Gaz-System spokeswoman Malgorzata Polkowska said.
"If everything goes as planned, the connection could start operating in 2017."
The proposed link with Slovakia would have an annual capacity of 2.5 billion to 5 billion cubic metres and could transport both Caspian gas as well as shale gas from Poland.
It would eventually connect the LNG terminal in Swinoujscie, a port in the western part of Poland's Baltic Sea that is to start operating in 2014, with a terminal planned for construction on Croatia's northern Adriatic island of Krk.
The terminal in Swinoujscie is being built by Gaz-System, while the port in Croatia is a project of the Adria LNG consortium comprised of Germany's E.ON-Ruhrgas, Austria's OMV, France's Total and Slovenia's Geoplin. (Reporting by Maciej Onoszko; editing by Michael Kahn and Jason Neely)