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The European Union will not confront Russia in terms of energy

16 May 2014 / 18:05:25  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

European Ministers of Energy agreed on the position that it is inappropriate to use the sector as part of the sanctions against Moscow, as stated by relevant Commissioner Guenther Oettinger in Athens.

"We want no interruption of gas supplies. We expect Russia to ensure the supplies to Ukraine, Moldova and the Western Balkans," he said during the press conference after the informal meeting of European Union Ministers of Energy in Athens.

Oettinger added that intensive negotiations between the European Union and the government of Ukraine and the management bodies of "Naftogaz" and "Gazprom" gas companies are currently underway, and that a meeting at the ministerial level is about to take place. "The goal of all these efforts is to guarantee on 1 June both the security and properness of supplies. I am cautiously optimistic that the matter will be resolved within the next 14 days."

Asked why he is sure that Ukraine will be able to pay its obligations to Russia during that time and how it will find the funds required for this, Oettinger said that the European Union and the International Monetary Fund have decided to give financial support to Ukraine. "Of course, the Ukrainian government will decide how to use these funds but we have reason to believe that a portion of them will be used for the payment of these duties."

In addition to the priority issues relating to Russia and Ukraine, the main topics discussed by the Ministers of Energy included energy diversification, energy saving, the more efficient use of energy and investment in the sector.

The Commissioner pointed out that the European Union aims to secure more than one natural gas supplier. "We want Russia to continue to be our partner but we also want to not be dependent on one supplier," he said. Norway is emerging as a possible supplier and even its Minister of Energy participated in the meetings over the past two days. In order for Europe not to be left without gas, the amount of the 30 days gas reserve under the present agreement with Russia is considered to be increased to meet the requirements for 50 or 60 days.

"We will thereafter look for other potential suppliers, including of liquefied gas, such as Libya, Qatar and Canada. We also expect the start-up of the TAP pipeline and the network of interconnections that will transport gas to other European countries." Oettinger pointed out that the development of infrastructure continues to be one of the top priorities of the European Union, as the construction of gas pipelines with an option of reverse gas flow and mutual gas transfer between the member states will secure greater energy independence for Europe.
The Commissioner pointed out that, at the next official meeting of Ministers of Energy, the Commission will propose that the bilateral agreements for gas supply between the member states and their contracts with third parties be discussed at the central level. In his words, the common energy policy and common agreement will make the European Union more powerful in the negotiations.

At the same time, he opposed the proposal of some European countries for determining the gas price at the political level. "This totally contradicts the rules of free market and competition. Moreover, it is not possible to have a common gas price without having a common natural gas market. If a market similar to the common oil market is created, then it will be possible to achieve a common price."

The European Union is closely following the privatization process of the Greek gas company DESFA, which will be purchased by Azerbaijan state gas company Sokar. Commissioner Oettinger pointed out that it is an important step towards the diversification of energy supplies to Europe, adding that the process is progressing and the privatization will be completed by the end of the year.

In turn, Greek Minister of Energy Yiannis Maniatis said the government of the country supports the sale of the company. He added that Greece, in turn, has almost completely prepared the documentation, completed the exchange of documentation with the European Commission and the Regulatory Energy Authority has granted permission for the sale.

Tags: PoliticsEuropean UnionRussiaUkraineNatural gasSuppliesEnergyInformal meeting
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