Europe still needs us, Gazprom says

The Russian natural gas company said it will meet the growing demand from countries in the European Union, though LNG could be a threat.

By Daniel J. Graeber

Sept. 27 (UPI) -- Russian energy company Gazprom said that, because of dwindling resources of its own, the European market was still largely dependent on its natural gas.

The board of directors at the state-controlled company said Wednesday that Gazprom was the largest natural gas exporter in the world and the largest supplier to members of the European Union.


"According to international industry experts, natural gas demand in the EU will remain stable in the long term," the company said. "With domestic production in an ongoing slump, EU countries will need considerable amounts of additional imports, prompting suppliers, including Gazprom, to boost their exports to the region."

Russia meets about a quarter of the European demand for natural gas and most of that supply runs through Soviet-era pipelines in Ukraine, where lingering conflicts and fluid alliances expose additional layers of risk.

Gazprom aims to twin its Nord Stream natural gas pipeline system running through the Baltic Sea to Germany and expand its options by building a pipeline for the southern European market through Turkey.

European opposition to expanding the Russian natural gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea faded early this year after the European Commission found no legal grounds to block the project. European governments are wary over Gazprom practices in the region, as the company usually controls both the gas supplies and the transit networks.


Maros Sefcovic, the European official in charge of energy issues, said this summer that Nord Stream didn't contribute to European objectives on market diversity. If it's built, he said Gazprom needs to play by European rules.

A profile of European energy demand from commodity pricing group S&P Global Platts predicted the "biggest shift" in the regional market would come in the growing volumes of liquefied natural gas. That, the report said, would interrupt traditional European suppliers like Russia.

Polish Oil & Gas, known by its acronym PGNiG, this year closed on a deal to accept LNG from Cheneire Energy, which owns a terminal in Louisiana that's the only one with the permits necessary for current exports of U.S. natural gas.

The United States could be the third-largest exporter of LNG in the world by the end of the decade.

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