* Carbon capture needed if EU, Russia to curb global warming
* Gazprom taken issue with EU law on separation in ownership
* 'Pragmatic solutions' possible, Oettinger says
By Barbara Lewis
BRUSSELS, April 27 The European Commission,
which has begun talks with the EU's biggest natural gas supplier
Russia on cementing energy ties until 2050, said both sides had
to work on burying carbon emissions or gas would have only a
short future as a fuel.
Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger told an EU-Russia
conference in Brussels that, for the 27-member bloc to continue
using gas beyond around 2030-2035, it needed carbon capture and
storage (CCS) technology to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
CCS captures climate-warming emissions from power plants and
stores the carbon underground, for example in depleted natural
gas fields under the sea. But the technology is commercially
unproven and costly to build.
"Unfortunately, progress within the EU is very slow. I am
also not aware of major activities in the Russian Federation on
this issue. We have a joint interest to start working on this
issue and develop joint activities," Oettinger said.
Together with Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko, the
Commission has agreed to work on an "EU-Russia 2050 road map",
Oettinger said, to guide ties between the European Union and its
biggest gas supplier.
The Commission, the EU executive, is also seeking a
legally-binding EU-Russia agreement, which it has been
negotiating with Moscow since 2008.
Relations between the two sides have often been tense as the
Commission seeks to reduce its dependence on Russia and to
liberalise its internal market.
THIRD ENERGY PACKAGE
Russian pipeline gas export monopoly Gazprom has
taken issue with EU law requiring a separation in ownership
between suppliers and infrastructure, such as the Nord Stream
pipeline, majority-owned by Gazprom, which runs from Russia to
Gazprom is also leading the South Stream pipeline project
into southern Europe.
Oettinger said the EU was "prepared to look at specific
cases, with the aim to find pragmatic solutions within the given
Ilya Galkin, a senior official in the Russian energy
ministry, welcomed the prospect of "a new long-term policy", but
said the EU law known as the third energy package was a problem
for investment security.
"We have received expressions of interest regarding
investment into the South Stream project from many EU
"They support this project directly, but the situation is
quite unclear, as far as the protection of investors is
concerned," he added.
The South Stream is a rival to Commission-backed plans to
bring in gas from Central Asia and the Caspian through a route
known as the Southern Corridor as an alternative to Russian
Oettinger said this did not contradict its relationship with
Russia, the EU's prime gas supplier.
"We will continue our efforts to ensure a direct and
sizeable access to the hydrocarbon source of the Caspian and
Central Asian region. We ask Russia to respect our choices and
the choices of the countries in the region."
(Editing by Anthony Barker)