Wed, January 21, 2009
World > Europe > Russia-Ukraine gas row

EU welcomes gas resumption, vows to strengthen energy security

2009-01-19 16:28:24 GMT2009-01-20 00:28:24 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

BRUSSELS, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on Tuesday welcomed the resumption of gas supplies from Russia via Ukraine to Europe but vowed to strengthen energy security to prevent another gas crisis in the future.

"Today we can finally welcome the resumption of gas supplies to Europe," Barroso said, "The Russian side opened the valves this morning and the Ukrainian side has allowed the gas to flow."

EU monitors on the ground reported that gas is flowing normally, pressure is building up in the system and gas is crossing the Ukrainian border into Slovakia, Barroso said.

Recalling the EU effort in the mediation of the Russia-Ukraine gas dispute, Barroso urged all parties to learn lessons from the crisis, accusing the two sides of holding European gas consumers hostage.

"So, welcome news. But at the same time, it is difficult to welcome something that should not have happened in the first place," he said, "It was utterly unacceptable that European gas consumers were held hostage to this dispute between Russia and Ukraine."

The commission chief called on EU member states to promote a rapid development of infrastructure for energy needs, as well as to encourage diversity of energy sources and supply routes.

"We have to complete the Third Single Energy Market package which is currently in its final stages" to promote transparency for networks, storage and demand, and prepare better for the next crisis, he said.

Barroso added EU members must prepare for next winter by reaching "rapid agreement to changes in the Security of Gas Supply Directive, and the Commission will bring forward detailed proposals as soon as possible."

"This painful episode is a sharp reminder that the EU needs to take energy security seriously," he said.

"Energy security begins at home," he said, "Energy efficiency, renewables, all means of cutting back on carbon emissions, will become even more important in the future."

He also pledged to take to the March European Council meeting the message that "now we have to be serious about diversifying and investing in Europe's energy security future."

Russia cut gas supplies to Europe on Jan. 7 over disputes with Ukraine on pricing and transition fees, leaving more than a dozen European nations without gas in cold, winter weather. The two sides settled the issue early Sunday.

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