The EU has unveiled a new energy strategy it says will help it avoid possible shortages arising from gas disputes between Russia and Ukraine. Europe imports more than 60 percent its gas, most of it from Russia.
Brussels has long recognised the need to diversify sources after some EU countries suffered supply cuts during price rows between Moscow and Kiev. The Commission’s energy chief Günther Oettinger said the new strategy would make the bloc’s gas stocks less vulnerable to interruptions beyond its control.
“European Union has more and more storage capacity for gas and there is new pipelines to transport gas from one member state to another in the case of crisis. And second there is a early warning mechanism between Russia and we have established contacts with Kiev, Moscow and Brussels,” Oettinger said.
But Moscow maintains Brussels has nothing to worry about, insisting it remains a reliable energy supplier. Russia recently opened the Nord Stream pipeline project to western Europe bypassing Ukraine. The Russian Ambassador to the EU told euronews the risk of supply problems doesn’t come from Russia but the EU itself.
“Russia will remain for the foreseeable future the biggest supplier of a natural gas to the EU market. The main concern – as the European Commission sees it – is a lack of unity in its external energy policy,’‘ Russian Ambassador Vladimit Chizhov said.
Brussels doesn’t appear to be taking any chances. A senior EU source told euronews a pipeline deal with Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan is all but signed, allowing the supply of Turkmen natural gas across the Caspian Sea.