Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Gazprom considering new gas transit projects in south of Europe — Russia’s FM

Russia's gas giant Gazprom is considering new gas transit projects in south Europe, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday.

According to the top diplomat, Russia is prepared to fully resume energy cooperation with the European Union, which is hardly possible without Europe’s involvement.

"I have to remind you that in January [European Commission Vice-President for Energy Union Maros] Sefcovic agreed with the fact that it is necessary to resume a full-fledged energy dialogue between Russia and the EU, which was frozen by Brussels a couple of years ago," Lavrov said. However, he added that "the European Commission has not taken any steps for resuming this dialogue in practical terms yet."

Lavrov noted, "Nord Stream 2 is not a Russian initiative, this is an initiative of a number of the European Union companies". "It has been characterized, at least in Germany, as a purely commercial initiative having no political agenda, and this is how Gazprom sees it," he said.

The diplomat noted the difference in the approaches of the European Commission when considering compliance of a project with the so-called Third Energy Package. "Most recently, an exception was made for the so-called Trans Adriatic Pipeline, and exactly for the same positions that were used to deny South Stream. Under this pretext, the project was not approved by the European Commission," Lavrov said.

"Nevertheless, considering the interest of western companies in the Nord Stream 2 project, Gazprom is exploring the possibility of additional projects in southern Europe," Lavrov said. "I am sure if the European Commission approaches the issue of European energy security objectively and does not treat it from a purely political position related to the need to provide Ukrainian transit, we can find solutions that will satisfy everyone," he said.

"I would like to remind that in January Vice President of the European Commission in charge of Energy Union Maros Sefcovic agreed that it was necessary to fully resume energy dialogue between Russia and the European Union, which Brussels has frozen a couple of years ago," Lavrov said. "Of course we agreed. However, to date the European Commission has not taken any steps to resume this dialogue in practical terms. We are ready. But in the absence of any interest of the European Union in practical steps, we will negotiate with our corresponding partners," he noted.

In late February, Chairman of the Gazprom Management Committee Alexey Miller, CEO of Edison SpA Marc Benayoun, and CEO of DEPA SA Theodoros Kitsakos signed the Memorandum of Understanding on natural gas deliveries across the Black Sea from Russia via third countries to Greece and from Greece to Italy in order to establish a southern route to deliver Russian natural gas to Europe.





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