Europe’s gas supplies not at risk, says EU commissioner

Pipelines are seen at a gas border delivery station of pipeline operator Eustream in the eastern Slovak town of Velke Kapusany, near the border with Ukraine, April 15, 2014. — Reuters pic
Pipelines are seen at a gas border delivery station of pipeline operator Eustream in the eastern Slovak town of Velke Kapusany, near the border with Ukraine, April 15, 2014. — Reuters pic

FRANKFURT, April 20 — EU energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger said today that he sees no danger of Europe’s access to Russian gas falling victim to possible economic sanctions in the standoff over Ukraine.

“From my many talks with Gazprom, my impression is that our Russian partners will fulfill their contractual obligations and want to supply the gas,” Oettinger told today’s newspaper Welt am Sonntag.

“We are agreed that, in the case of possible economic sanctions — whether from the European or Russian side — the gas sector should not have any priority,” the commissioner said.

Russian gas giant Gazprom accounted for around 25 per cent of the European gas market, Oettinger said.

“I am against scaling back or even cutting our gas links with Russia in the coming years,” the commissioner said.

“But we must pursue our strategy of diversification.”

Norway and Algeria were also important gas suppliers, Oettinger said, pointing out that 30 percent of supplies came from Europe itself, namely Britain and the Netherlands.

“I would also urgently press Germany to make use of the shale gas option and allow fracking projects,” Oettinger said. — AFP