WARSAW, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Polish and Ukrainian state gas pipeline operators signed an agreement on Wednesday to look into expanding their capacity to transport gas between the two countries, the Polish pipeline group Gaz-System said in a statement.
Poland, along with other central and southeast European countries, gets most of their gas from Russia and wants to cut dependence on it, particularly as the crisis between Ukraine and Russia could affect deliveries this winter.
Poland, central and eastern Europe's largest economy, also wants to become the region's gas trading and transit hub.
Gaz-System and its Ukrainian counterpart Ukrtransgaz will do a feasibility study to see whether to expand their gas pipeline systems, Gaz-System said.
Poland is already connected to Ukraine's gas system through a pipeline going though the village of Hermanowice in south-eastern Poland near the border with Ukraine. The pipeline has a transit capacity of up to 1.5 bcm of natural gas per year.
Poland has been building a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal at the Baltic port of Swinoujscie, due to start commercial operation in 2015, to help to diversify its supplies. This will initially be able to accept 5 billion cubic metres per year, with a third storage tank potentially boosting its capacity to 7.5 bcm per year.
"The integration of the Polish pipeline system with the Ukrainian one is an element of the North-South corridor that will connect the LNG terminal in Swinoujscie with countries of central and eastern Europe," Gaz-System said in a statement. (Reporting by Marcin Goettig. Editing by Jane Merriman)