.
Skip to content.
Skip to content.
Meetings Calendar 2006
January
.
February
.
March
.
April
.
May
.
June
.
March
  Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su  
 
.
.
1
.
2
.
3
.
4
.
5
.
 
  6
.
7
.
8
.
9
.
10
.
11
.
12
.
 
  13
.
14
.
15
.
16
.
17
.
18
.
19
.
 
  20
.
21
.
22
.
23
.
24
.
25
.
26
.
 
  27
.
28
.
29
.
30
.
31
.
.
.
 
 
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
 
 
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
 
Service
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

Interview with Economics Minister Martin Bartenstein, "CNN International Business News"

 

CNN: Well, a fall in Russian gas output is adding to Italy´s energy worries off for a Cologne cold snap for the EU government there has called an emergency meeting of the country’s four biggest energy companies. They all will meet on Thursday to discuss the country’s natural gas supplies. So Italy has already switched off gas supplies to several of it’s industrial clients and power plants that are able to run on oil instead of gas if being activated. Worries about a shortage of supply pushed holds our gas prizes high in den United Kingdom. One trader told of a 20 percent rise in just 30 hours. Europe’s reliance on Russian gas is a growing course of concern across the region. We are joined on the phone by the Austrian economics minister Martin Bartenstein. He is also president of the Europe’s Energy Minister´s Council. So thanks for joining us. The Austrian chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel has called on the EU to reduce it’s dependence on Russian gas supplies, I guess, you’re suggesting the same? Just how concerned is the now EU president about this security of supply from Russia? And how concerned should we be as Europeans?

Bartenstein: Well, we were very concerned on January 1st and January 2nd when due to the gas price battle between the Russians and Ukrainians the gas supply was reduced up to 50 percent. This time the situation appears to be quite different. You already mentioned, that’s also our information, that the cause for the reduced gas supply are extremely low temperatures in and around Moscow: minus 30 degrees celsius, minus 35 degrees celsius. And I was informed by our gas importer OMV, -  and they do not only do the gas imports for Austria, but they also transfer large quantities into Italy, into Germany and into France – that this is something they have experienced before. They are in very close contact with Gazprom. And Gazprom has announced that within a few days gas supplies would be back to normal. And this situation as it appears today and now can be handled by gas importers and by regulators.

CNN: Okay, so this is not as serious as the gas prices created by Gazprom’s decision to cut supplies to the Ukraine less than three weeks ago. Nevertheless, Europe imports 40 percent of it’s gas and a quarter of EU gas supply is from Russia. At this point, are you convinced and are others convinced that Russian gas is an entirely reliable supply source?

Bartenstein: Well, Russian gas will certainly remain to be the back bone of gas supplies to Europe. On the other hand, we know that gas imports are rather to increase than to decrease in European Union over the next ten, twenty years. And therefore we have to look for first of all diversification of pipeline systems. 80 percent of Russian gas comes via the Ukrainian pipeline system. And that is, as we know, part or great part of the problem, we have experienced. And secondly, we have to look for alternative gas supply sources. And that involves liquified natural gas, LNG. There are some European countries which use LNG, to a certain degree, e.g. Italy, Spain, France. But much more can be done. That’s a sort of diversification of supply sources and not only pipeline systems.

CNN: Well, okay. LNG, of course, would generally also be another import from areas that might in the future not be any more secure than we believe Russian gas supplies are now, I am talking about the Middle East for example. Isn’t it a challenge this to effectible in Europe balance the energy liberalisation policies in the national markets. Would be security of supply effectibly? Europe’s given away it’s control of it’s energy supplies, hasn’t it? And this is just a classic example surely of how supplies can therefore be disrupted. And gas prices as well as all prices go sky high.

Bartenstein: Well energy liberalisation, deregulation and partly also privatisation move within the European Union were the right thing to do during the last ten, fifteen years. But I agree with you that in the next years we have to focus on, first of all, a more coherent energy policy within the European Union. The commission will propose a green paper within the next days or weeks, and discuss it at the Spring Council in March and that’s also what Chancellor Schüssel said to the European Parliament today. This will be one of the main topics to be discussed. And secondly following this energy policy, the contents will have to be security supply, will have to be diversification, as already mentioned, and will have to be the necessary incentive to the energy industry to invest, and that does not only affect and refer to gas, certainly also to electricity. We have to invest into production, into the grid, and oil prices are an other thing to be concerned about because we know that today we are talking about 60 Dollars per barrel. And that’s something we haven’t been used to in the past.

CNN: Martin Bartenstein, we thank you very much indeed for joining us. And later in the programme, we will see, whether there is lightly to be any let-up in Russia´s cold. 

 

Date: 26.01.2006