The EU should seek to diversify its gas supplies away from Russia and look for new transport routes in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine row, Austria's Economic Minister, Martin Bartenstein, said at a debate in Parliament on 17 January.Austria, which iscurrently holding the rotating EU Presidency, has put energy supply issues high on the agenda of a summit of EU leaders on 23 March.
Bartenstein said three sets of measures could be expedited to diversify supplies in the long run:
- a quick start to theNabucco pipeline which will give Europe access to the large gas fields in the Caspian region and the Middle East. "These projects should be introduced quickly," he told MEPs. The pipeline is due for completion in 2020 and willgo from Iran to Austriavia Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary.
- a fivefold increase in the use of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) that can be transported by ship to regions where a pipeline connection is not feasible. "There are projectsto establish new terminals or expand the existing ones in some countries," Bartenstein said. He indicated that these were expected to increase the EU's capacity up to 160bn m3 per year by 2010, up from 60bn m3 at the current capacity.
- increased transparency of hydrocarbon markets to reduce the high volatility of prices.
In the short run, Bartenstein said the EU should consider building up enough gas stocks to make up for two months worth of possible shortages.
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