BRUSSELS, March 18 (UPI) -- The diversification of the European energy sector hinges not only on the Nabucco pipeline but also on liquefied natural gas from Qatar, an EU official said.
The European Union in 2008 put diversification of its energy sector at the top of its agenda. A January row between Kiev and Moscow disrupted European gas supplies for weeks as the bulk of Europe's Russian gas travels through Ukraine.
Russia sees potential to expand its transit network in the Nord Stream pipeline to Germany and the South Stream pipeline to Italy. Europe, for its part, is pushing for the planned $10.7 billion Nabucco pipeline from Caspian and Middle Eastern suppliers as a diversification option.
European Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs wrote on his Web site that diversification is not exclusive to Nabucco, noting liquefied natural gas from Qatar has possibilities for Europe.
"Few people know that Qatar holds the third-largest gas reserves in the world and will soon be our fourth gas supplier, just after Russia, Norway and Algeria," he wrote.
LNG from Qatar relies on tanker transportation, which Piebalgs said is attractive given the latest energy-transit disputes haunting Europe.
"The main particularity of Qatari gas is that they don't export it by pipeline, like our traditional energy suppliers, but by ship," he noted.
While LNG is more costly than piped gas, Piebalgs added, plans for its use fit within the diversification objectives of the European Union.