EU unfazed by Russian gas ambitions

Feb. 11, 2011 at 7:29 AM
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BRUSSELS, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- The European community has no interest in blocking Russian ambitions to diversify the regional energy sector, the European energy commissioner said.

Europe is lobbying for development of its planned Southern Corridor of energy transit networks. The network includes the Nabucco natural gas pipeline, which is to follow a route similar to Russian plans to develop the South Stream gas network.

European Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger was quoted by the BBC as saying that "we don't want to block South Stream," however.

The race to diversity gained momentum in January 2009 when Russian gas company Gazprom cut off most of European-bound gas through Ukraine's gas transit system.

As much as 80 percent of Russia's gas bound for Europe runs through Ukrainian pipelines and Oettinger said European member states learned their lesson from that crisis.

Oettinger said European members are obliged to keep 30 days worth of natural gas on reserve and Marlene Holzner, his spokeswoman, said gas-rich Azerbaijan was committed to helping Europe meet its energy demands.

"Azerbaijan pledged that Europe would get a substantial amount of gas," she was quoted as saying.

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