EU Commissioner: Russia tries to call Nabucco into question to be gas monopolist in Europe

EU Commissioner: Russia tries to call Nabucco into question to be gas monopolist in Europe

Azerbaijan, Baku, July 17 / Trend A. Badalova /

Russia is trying to put "Nabucco" gas pipeline project under question to be the only producer and seller of gas in Europe having no competitors, EU Commissioner for Energy said.

Russia is trying to call Nabucco into question to become the sole producer and wholesaler of gas, with no competition.

"I can understand their view, it's fair enough. Russian interests are the same as ours in several areas, in others they differ, in the case of Nabucco our interests differ," EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger said in an interview with Deutschlandradio.

A text of the interview was received by Trend from RWE company by e-mail. RWE is a shareholder in the Nabucco project with 16.67 percent stake.

Oettinger said that Russia is a key partner for the EU in the energy field.

About a quarter of the gas we consume in Europe comes from Russia.

The Russians also have an interest in making sure that gas is flowing because the pipelines they own - and Gazprom owns over 50 percent of the North Stream pipeline - are financed by them and the financing system will only function if gas is flowing.

"And the Russians need foreign currency to buy German and European machinery to drive forward their industrial development. We have a good business relationship," Oettinger said.

That's why we want to have a strong partnership with mutual commitment with the Russians, but also to have other partnerships to ensure our independence, he said.

In the gas crisis with Ukraine over a year ago and now again with the Belarus/Russia conflict, we have seen that there are political differences of opinion in Eastern Europe and gas is being used as an instrument of pressure. We cannot allow this to happen in Europe, Oettinger said.

"The general rule is - and this goes for food, oil and any other product - never to be 100 percent dependant on one supplier, but rather to have several suppliers. In the case of gas this is in our fundamental interest," Oettinger said.

Europe needs another direct partner. Nabucco project in this plan corresponds more with its interests, he said.

According to the German energy group RWE, which is one of the shareholders of Nabucco gas pipeline, Europe's dependence on gas import is 57 percent. The share of Russian import is 24 percent. The rest part of gas supplies falls to countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Qatar.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), demand for gas in Europe will increase from 526 billion cubic meters in 2010 to 622 billion cubic meters in 2030. Europe's dependence on gas import is expected to increase from current 232 billion cubic meters to 476 billion cubic meters in 2030.

The European market requires large gas supplies as demand increases but own reserves run out. A need for more gas can be met by a large number of gas pipelines, he said.

The EU implements the concept "Southern Corridor" to diversify routes and sources of supply by increasing European countries' energy security.

A project of Nabucco gas pipeline is a priority project within "South Corridor". It aims to transport gas from the Caspian region and the Middle East to the EU countries.

The Nabucco gas pipeline project is worth 7.9 billion euro.

Construction is planned to launch in 2011, with first supplies being commissioned in 2014.

Maximal capacity of the pipeline will hit 31 billion euro.

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