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EU dumps $3.1 billion into energy projects

March 5, 2010 at 9:31 AM

BRUSSELS, March 5 (UPI) -- European leaders in Brussels released $3.1 billion in grants for natural gas and electricity projects to boost the economy and energy security, officials said.

The European Commission selected 31 gas and 12 electricity projects that would "significantly" boost economic recovery plans and energy security for member states.

European leaders said they need to push hard to stimulate the economy while ensuring energy supply disruptions are avoided.

Moscow cut gas supplies to Kiev in 2009 following a row over gas debt. That left Europe in the cold for weeks as 80 percent of Russian gas bound for the bloc heads through Soviet-era pipelines in Ukraine.

European Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger said the $3.1 billion effort was a milestone for member states.

"Never before has the commission agreed such an important amount for energy projects," he said.

The projects include tightening the electrical grid for EU member states and the Nabucco gas pipeline through Turkey.

"This is a moment where Europe can play an important role in keeping these projects on track," said Oettinger.

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