27th Oct 2016

EU draws up Adriatic gas plan after Russia-Ukraine fiasco

The EU might build a new gas pipeline on the Adriatic Sea coast in order to ease reliance on Russia following the Russia-Ukraine gas dispute.

Hungarian economics minister Janos Koka told news wires about the plan following a meeting of EU energy experts in Brussels on Wednesday (4 December).

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Under the scheme, tankers would deliver liquid gas from the Middle East and North Africa to an Adriatic region entry point into Europe.

A feasibility study is due by March.

The EU experts' meeting was orginally tabled for May, but was brought forward after Russia turned off gas supplies to transit state Ukraine on Sunday causing sharp drops in deliveries to the EU.

Moscow and Kiev struck a price deal in the small hours of Wednesday morning, but some EU politicians are sceptical if the accord will hold.

The EU currently relies on Russia for around 25 percent of its gas consumption.

"We have to draw consequences from what happened, not just on gas but also regarding oil and electricity", Austrian ecnomics minister Martin Bartenstein said according to PAP and IHT.

"Dependency on Russia should be reduced", he added.

The EU energy group also asked the European Commission to produce a green paper on energy policy coordination in time for the Austrian presidency's first summit in March.

The paper is likely to focus on uniform counting methods for member states' gas reserves, concerted action on new supply routes, such as the Turkish 'Nabucco' pipeline, nuclear and renewable energy and energy conservation.

Polish daily Rzeczpospolita reports that all member states agreed on Wednesday to tackle energy at EU level, including previous opponents of the idea such as the UK.

"Europe needs a clear and more collective policy on the security of our energy supply," EU energy commisssioner Andris Piebalgs indicated.

The Austrian presidency stressed that Russia has been a "reliable" EU energy partner for over 40 years.

But signs of concern also came from Berlin, with a German government spokesman telling media that energy will be a big topic when chancellor Angela Merkel visits Moscow on 16 January.

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