EU energy chief hopes for smooth solution to Gazprom spat

NICOSIA Mon Sep 17, 2012 8:13am EDT

A general view of the headquarters of Russian gas giant Gazprom during the company's Annual General Meeting of shareholders in Moscow June 29, 2012. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

A general view of the headquarters of Russian gas giant Gazprom during the company's Annual General Meeting of shareholders in Moscow June 29, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov

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NICOSIA (Reuters) - The European Commission is holding intensive talks with Russia and expects to reach a compromise on a legal dispute between the bloc and its biggest gas provider, while avoiding disruption to energy supplies, the bloc's energy commissioner said on Monday.

The Commission is investigating suspected anti-competitive practices by Russia's Gazprom, which has said it will fight the case but not cut supplies in retaliation.

EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said there was no supply risk. "We don't see any direct risk for our security of our supply, either for oil, coal or gas. We assume all sides will respect contractual commitments," he told reporters.

"We have had intensive bilateral discussions about Russian developments," he said on the sidelines of an informal meeting of EU energy ministers in Cyprus, holder of the EU presidency.

"A number of points are obviously controversial. But I believe that both sides can be professional on this, so much so that I believe these controversial issues can be cleared up, I believe it is possible we find compromises. Moreover the European energy market, our industry, the consumers need not suffer from this," he added.

Oettinger said he was preparing for further talks with the new Russian energy minister and the new deputy prime minister in October or November at the latest. The annual EU-Russia dialogue will be held in December.

(Reporting by Michele Kambas; Writing by Barbara Lewis; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)

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