Russia wants explanation of EU energy blueprint
Updated: 2011-02-22 10:24
MOSCOW - Russia's Gazprom said Monday Moscow wants the European Union to clarify how Europe's new common energy policy can be implemented without harming Russia's interests.
Gazprom's CEO Alexei Miller voiced concern that the new blueprint, also known as the Third Energy Package, would hurt Russian gas supplies and discourage investors from funding gas pipeline projects.
"Direct limits for gas suppliers Gazprom and major European companies to invest in gas transit will make the sector less attractive to investors," Miller said. He added that Moscow expects European officials to explain at next week's talks how Moscow and Brussels could cooperate after the energy deal is in force.
The Third Energy Package, which comes into force in March, aims to boost competition in the European gas market by separating gas production from pipeline management to prevent one company from controlling the entire supply chain in a country.
The package gives EU member states three options on how to deal with companies that both export gas to the EU and own a pipeline. The most drastic option would force a gas producer to sell its pipeline a route only Lithuania has chosen so far.
A second option picked by most countries forces a gas producer to transfer the management of a pipeline to an independent entity, but allows them to continue owning it.
Under a third option, a gas producer could hold on to the pipeline but would have to allow other companies to use it according to objective guidelines.
Marlene Holzner, a spokeswoman for the EU's Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger, said the EU needed more competition in the gas market to ensure fair prices for consumers and companies.
Europe is Russia's key market for gas, but Moscow has been concerned about Brussels' plans to diversify away from its supplies. Many EU countries, including all Baltic states, Slovakia and Finland, get all their gas from Russia, which in the past has cut off supplies amid disputes over pricing.
Miller said Russia would be willing to sign a road map with the EU at Russia-EU talks next week and guarantee gas supplies through 2050 a timeline he described as realistic since Gazprom and some European companies are locked in gas deals through 2035.
Gazprom's European clients have been asking Moscow for discounts amid a supply glut in Europe, driven by cheap liquefied natural gas. But Gazprom has been defending its pricing policy based on oil prices, saying that it allows them to go forward with massive long-term investments.
Miller on Monday described gas purchases on the spot market as unreliable and said that Europeans are not interested in switching to spot prices now that they have gone up to match Gazprom's contract prices.
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