EU gas diversity critical, council finds

Dec. 6, 2012 at 9:02 AM

BRUSSELS, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Any energy relationship with Russia should be based on fair competition and transparency, a statement from the EU and U.S. governments said.

European Commissioner for Energy Gunther Oettinger met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Brussels for the fourth U.S.-EU Energy Council.

The council, in a statement, described Europe's planned Southern Corridor of gas transit networks as a "pivotal opportunity" to diversify a European energy sector that depends in part on Russian natural gas.

A 2009 spat over gas contracts between Ukraine and Russia disrupted downstream supplies for European consumers. That row, in part, led to a race to build more pipelines to avoid sensitive territory in Ukraine.

The council took note of Ukrainian energy reforms while at the same time calling for a level-playing field in terms of Russian energy policies in the region.

"The Energy Council highlighted the importance of mutually beneficial energy relations with Russia based on transparency, a level-playing field, fair competition and continued cooperation to ensure the safe and secure supply of energy," the statement read.

The Southern Corridor would rely on Caspian and other non-Russian gas suppliers. Russian energy company Gazprom is the target of a European anti-trust probe for its operations mainly in Eastern Europe.

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