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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Energy in Europe, 01.2009-the aftermath of a crisis

Today:
  1. France, Belgium push for 'Europe of electricity'
  2. Gas crisis casts fresh doubt on EU’s Nabucco pipeline
  3. Turkey plays energy card in stalled EU accession talks
  4. Russia, Ukraine sign gas transit deal
Yes, the crisis is over, but we're still repairing the damage. Enjoy the result:

France, Belgium push for 'Europe of electricity'

21 January 2009

The French power transmission operator RTE and its Belgian counterpart Elia will inaugurate on 18 February a coordination centre in Brussels, in a bid to strengthen the security of electricity flows in Western Europe, EurActiv France reports.

The centre is meant to reinforce technical coordination of electricity networks for the whole Central and Western Europe region.

The aims of the centre will be to enable the electricity companies to share their tools, software and data.

The chairman also believes that similar centres should be opened up in other parts of Europe. "There is a common will of all the electricity providers to move in this direction," he claimed.

Maillard called for a "higher level of security" of European electricity networks and a "strengthening of the exchange of data" between national electricity providers.

The attainment of this goal will, however, depend on the will of the operators in Germany, as the country has four electricity companies. Indeed, the "question of reunification rests on the German operators," Maillard said.

In fact, Vattenfall Europe Transmission, an electricity company that uses high tension networks and installations in Berlin, Hamburg and the eastern regions of Germany, has expressed an interest in the Franco-Belgian initiative. This is equally the case for the British company National Grid, according to RTE. source

My comment: Well, this one, I support. I like European networks from any kind. And in view of recent events, I think everyone will agree with me- Europe can no longer think locally. Every disaster - natural or artificial- hits us all. Companies use and abuse European market as well as they can. And if Bulgaria or Romania are without electricity, gas or oil, then not only local companies will be hit. And Europe is for everyone, right?

Gas crisis casts fresh doubt on EU’s Nabucco pipeline

20 January 2009

Leading energy experts yesterday (19 January) asked difficult questions in the European Parliament about the future of the EU's flagship Nabucco gas pipeline project, which is seen by many as a panacea for decreasing the Union's dependence on Russian imports.

The gas crisis between Russia and Ukraine, which cut or disrupted gas supplies to 18 EU countries, did not appear to be a sufficient argument in favour of Nabucco among experts addressing the Parliament's foreign affairs committee yesterday.

At political level, at first it had appeared that Nabucco would gain credibility in light of the crisis (EurActiv 09/01/09). But MEPs were presented yesterday with a rather pessimistic draft report on EU energy security, in which Nabucco featured prominently.

The summit had raised hopes that the project could be re-launched. Indeed, the Czech Republic, which currently holds the six-month rotating EU presidency, has indicated it will push for Nabucco as one of its top priorities (EurActiv 16/12/08).

Professor Alan Riley of the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) said the main question regarding Nabucco was "where the gas [was] going to come from". Lack of investment makes imports from Iran problematic as that country is still a net importer of gas, despite holding the world's third-largest reserves, he said. Besides, sanctions currently in place against Iran make the whole project appear more likely to be realised in the distant future.

As for Turkmenistan, Riley said there is reluctance on the part of that country's government to deliver gas to Europe, as it prefers to sell to Russia and also has China as an alternative client.

Regarding the issue of transit, Prof. Riley warned that Turkey, a key transit country, has huge domestic demand for gas itself, while legal disputes on the delimitation of the Caspian Sea could be used by Russia to block the project. He also said that financing Nabucco remained a challenge. source

My comment: Please, read this article. It will make the Nabucco story much clearer to you if you still have any doubts. Gazprom may be insolent partner, but Turkey will be much worst if you ask me. Because unlike Russia, they have the full support of USA. And not only because of that- the EU wants to rely on a non-EU country, one that has sever internal problems. It's just too much of a risk to accept to play with it. For me, Nabucco is a good idea, if Iran becomes a partner of the EU (and if Iran becomes at least one idea less crazy) . But we shouldn't bet all our cards on it. In any case, how hard is it to understand-we need renewables! Only renewables and nuclear energy may and will secure our energy need. Nothing more and nothing less!

Turkey plays energy card in stalled EU accession talks

20 January 2009

Turkey might be forced to rethink its support for the strategic Nabucco gas pipeline if the EU refuses to unfreeze accession talks on important negotiating chapters such as energy, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during a visit to Brussels yesterday (19 January).

The EU considers Nabucco as a top priority. The pipeline would transport gas from the Caspian Sea across Turkey to Central Europe. The project has gained even more importance in the light of the latest gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine, which left several Eastern European countries in the cold for days.

The remark made huge waves in Brussels. But Prime Minister Erdogan, after meeting European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, later underlined that Turkey did not want to use energy as a weapon.

"Turkey can play an important role in resolving the EU's energy problem," Erdogan told reporters after the meeting. Barroso replied that an issue as important as energy security should not be linked to Turkey's accession talks, but nontheless pledged that the Commission will "make all efforts" to unfreeze chapters. "Good cooperation on energy matters," Barroso stated.

The initial remarks by Erdogan, who was paying his first visit to Brussels for four years, were illustrative of growing Turkish frustration over stalled talks on the country's EU entry.

The prime minister called on EU member states and citizens to rethink their opposition towards Turkish membership, as negative opinion in Europe also has a negative effect on how Turkey views the Union.

Addressing those who said they considered Turkey not to be part of Europe, he said: "I consider this as an insult and can only invite those to have a look at the map." He added that Union membership is not based on geography, because otherwise North Cyprus would not have joined. source

My comment: Well, I, of course, oppose the idea of Turkey as it is now, to be a member of the EU. It's not about any vendetta, it's a very practical opinion. Turkey has two faces and Europe must be aware of that. From the one side, it's the pro-western Turkey that is secular and no less than any other country in the EU. From the other side, however, are the religious hard-liners and fanatics that has no place in Europe. And guess what- there is no way to get only one of those- you'll let in Europe both. I don't mind any religion, I mind when religion interferes with people's life and with the government. As long as Islam in Turkey isn't under control (I know it sounds bad, but hey, I know Turkish people- I don't have a problem that they won't drink alcohol-but hell I'll mind if they won't look at me because I'm female that like to wear tops and skirts!).

Russia, Ukraine sign gas transit deal

20 January 2009

The European Commission has reacted cautiously to an announcement that Russia and Ukraine have resolved their standoff and will resume gas deliveries to Europe after signing a ten-year gas transit agreement.

Vladimir Putin, Russia's prime minister, and Yulia Tymoshenko, his Ukrainian counterpart, signed the agreement at Putin's government headquarters in Moscow on Monday (19 January).

"As a result of intensive and lengthy talks, we have reached agreement on all issues concerning natural gas supply to Ukraine and its transit to Europe," Putin said, according to the Associated Press.

The deal, which was first announced over the weekend (EurActiv 19/01/09), will see Kiev pay 20% less for Russian gas than the European market price, or around $450 per 1,000 cubic metres, according to Ria Novosty, the official Russian news agency. Meanwhile, Russia said it will continue to pay $1.7 per 1,000 cubic metres for each 100 kilometres of gas transited via the Ukrainian pipeline system.

The EU receives about a quarter of its gas from Russia, 80% of which travels through Ukrainian pipelines. source

My comment: Imagine what "intensive and lengthy talks" Putin and Tymoshenko had, when many analysers claimed the whole thing is a stunt to secure the lady a better position in Ukraina. Oh, well, the theater is useful and sometimes even fun. I'm too pissed on the conclusion of the Czech presidency that the Europe successfully handled the situation. Because we didn't. Bulgaria was gas-less for weeks. And nobody helped. NO ONE!

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