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EU Energy Commissioner: Natural Gas Is Key For Europe’s Future

Gas is going to become a key for the energy future of Europe. This was the message from the EU Energy Commissioner to the 10th Gas Infrastructure Europe Annual Conference in Krakow, Poland.

Gunther Oettinger listed four reasons. Firstly gas “is an ideal partner for renewables” and “will provide a unique opportunity to reduce CO2 emission till 2030.” The other three advantages being: flexibility, security and versatility of supply.

The Commissioner also enumerated the fastest applications of gas. “Gas could extend its application in transport,” Mr. Oettinger said. “There may be more potential in gas for heating in some member states.”

Oettinger declared that the European Union would become the largest, competitive, integrated gas market in the world. In order to turn this vision into reality, at least ten years and tens of billions of euros will be needed, as the European Union will need more gas pipelines and other infrastructure.

“We`ll need more infrastructure, more sources and delivery routes,” Gunther Oettinger said. “Gas storages and new LNG terminals will be central elements for security and feasibility to the network.”

He continued that in order to finance this plan a “stable environment for investors” will be created including “incentives in risky innovative projects.”

The Commissioner compared gas infrastructure to transport network in Europe: highways, railways, seaports and airports, concluding that necessary investments in gas transportation and storage would cost at least 70 billion euros.

“We are developing our gas infrastructure system in the best manner. We need some time, we need money, but we have the clear strategy, we have European, Pan European plan (…) I`m sure in ten to fifteen years, we`re ready, “ added the Commissioner later when speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the Conference.

“Security will be ever growing concern,“ he argued, emphasizing the importance of both, imports and indigenous production.

Oettinger warned that it`s too early to decide about significance of shale gas. “It is too early to say what impact shale gas can have, although it may have potential of important new source of supply in and around Europe.”

“We need also long term contracts,” adding that oil indexation lead to the situation when gas is “priced against the market.“

“Some member states pay 40% more for gas than others, even if they are well connected.”

Oettinger was also asked by journalists about situation in the Eastern part of the EU.

“We will make proposals for integrated, new infrastructure in Central Europe,” he replied. “It`s my interest to realize this proposal, this European plan with our member states in next five to eight years.”

In respect to the ever topical Southern Corridor projects, EU Energy Commissioner said: “I`m sure we will open Southern Corridor in next years.”

“And it`s up to involved companies to decide which pipeline should be realized, but I`m sure there is gas from the Caspian Region before end of decade in the European gas market.”

Natural Gas Europe, 28 May 2012