EU denies pipeline rivalry

The
EU’s new partnerships with energy-rich Central Asian countries do not threaten
Russian gas sales to Europe, the EU’s energy commissioner says.

Guenther
Oettinger said “we don’t want to block South Stream”, referring to a
plan to pump Russian gas to the Balkans and Italy via a new southern pipeline.

Last
month Azerbaijan pledged to export gas to the EU through a different pipeline –
Nabucco – via Turkey.

Nabucco
and South Stream have been seen as potential future rivals.

EU
officials have made no secret of the fact that they want to reduce the EU’s
reliance on imported Russian natural gas.

A
big part of the plan is a new “Southern Corridor”, tapping into the
gas resources of ex-Soviet Central Asia and possibly northern Iraq.

North
Africa is also set to increase gas exports to the EU in future.

Russia
currently provides a quarter of total EU gas supplies.

Seven
countries in the 27-nation bloc are almost totally dependent on Russian gas.

Nabucco
– not yet built – is part of the effort to diversify Europe’s energy sources.

Mr
Oettinger’s spokeswoman, Marlene Holzner, said Azerbaijan was now weighing up
the offers on pricing from the various companies involved in Nabucco.

Azerbaijan
plans to pump gas into Nabucco from its Shah Deniz II field in the Caspian Sea.

 The 2,046-mile pipeline is expected to deliver
up to 31 billion cubic metres of gas annually.

 Turkmenistan is also poised to be a supplier.

“Azerbaijan
pledged that Europe would get a substantial amount of gas,” Ms Holzner said.

Azerbaijan
and the European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso, declared the joint
goal last month of making the Southern Corridor operational as soon as possible.

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