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Europe needs gas in future energy mix

Feb. 25, 2011 at 9:02 AM

STAVANGER, Norway, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Incorporating natural gas into the future European energy mix will help the bloc meet its environmental objectives, a Norwegian gas executive said.

Europe aims to slash greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 percent by 2050. A report by the European Gas Advocacy Forum calls for a phase out of such conventional energy resources as coal to meet that objective.

Rune Bjornson, a senior vice president for natural gas at Norwegian energy company Statoil, said Europe is facing a huge challenge with its emissions ambitions.

Statoil maintains that natural gas is a cost-competitive and cleaner alternative to coal.

"The combination of increased use of natural gas and growth in renewable energy is a robust pathway for Europe in reaching its carbon emissions targets," said Bjornson in a statement.

Europe is keen to add diversity to its energy market as well by trying to break the Russian grip on the energy sector through a series of oil and gas pipelines dubbed the Southern Corridor.

Russian energy officials speaking on the sidelines of talks with European leaders in Brussels said, however, that Moscow could give Europe more gas if it was needed.

"If there is demand, we are ready to significantly expand gas supplies to Europe," Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko was quoted by Russian news agency RIA Novosti as saying.

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