European energy firms reach out to Russia

24-05-2007

European energy firms reach out to Russia
Europe's three largest gas firms have called for political intervention to build ties with Russian gas giant Gazprom.

Eni of Italy, Gaz de France and E.ON Ruhrgas of Germany said tensions between Moscow and the EU should not derail energy security.

The comments came after Russian president, Vladimir Putin, arrived in Vienna for a state visit a week after the collapse of an EU-Russia summit meeting.

Jean-Marie Devos, secretary general of industry body Eurogas, said: "Russia is our neighbour. We should take energy on its own merits and not let the political climate affect it."

E.ON Ruhrgas is part of the Russian-German consortium building the €9 billion North European gas pipeline, which will allow Russia to bypass Poland by sending gas to Europe under the Baltic Sea.

The 27-nation trading bloc is Russia's biggest expert market, importing a third of its oil and half of its gas needs from the country. Gazprom is expected to supply up to 15 per cent of the UK's gas in he coming years.

Russia was accused last year of using this fact to gain political leverage in a price spat with the Ukraine.

Gazprom for its part said it was pressing ahead with downstream investments in the EU in spite of the apparent rift between Moscow and Brussels over the planned Baltic Sea pipeline.

It owns ten percent of the interconnector pipeline between Belgium and Britain and the proposed Nord Stream pipeline through Germany and Holland into the UK.


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