* Energy ministers resolve to diversify supply, improve
* Germany says no alternative to Russian gas in short term
* U.S. warns sanctions could be extended if Ukraine
(Adds fresh details, quotes)
By Stephen Jewkes and James Mackenzie
ROME, May 6 Europe will be saddled with its
dependence on Russian gas for years, ministers from the Group of
Seven industrial nations said on Tuesday, condemning the use of
energy as a weapon of political coercion.
"I don't know anyone in the world who could tell us how
Europe's dependency on importing Russian gas can be changed in
the short term," German Economy and Energy Minister Sigmar
Gabriel told reporters.
Meeting in Rome as the crisis in Ukraine intensified, G7
energy ministers said they were "extremely concerned about the
energy security implications of developments in Ukraine as a
consequence of Russia's violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and
They promised to improve energy efficiency, develop a
broader mix of energy supplies - including liquefied natural gas
(LNG), renewables and new gas pipelines - and to invest in
strengthening the existing supply network infrastructure.
But there were no immediate alternatives, they admitted.
U.S. shale gas was not expected to aid Europe until at least the
end of the decade, when it could be imported from tankers as
Both Italy and France restated their support for the South
Stream pipeline project, which will bring gas from Russia into
Europe bypassing Ukraine - while also declaring the need to
build up alternative channels.
A third of the EU's gas imports is from Russia, with almost
half of that passing through Ukraine, which is in another
pricing dispute with Russian gas exporter Gazprom, its
third in the past decade.
The final statement from the meeting concentrated on the
need to diversify sources of energy and build up gas
infrastructure and interconnectivity.
"We are committed to initiate a systemic and enduring step
change to improve energy security at national, regional and
global levels," the ministers said.
No decisions were taken on whether or not to toughen the
targeted sanctions which have already been applied against
members of the Russian elite.
That will be left to foreign ministers and heads of
However U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said that if the
situation in Ukraine continued to escalate, G7 leaders could
"move forward, as they have agreed, in terms of elevating
sanctions, particularly, at some point, moving towards sectorial
Tough rhetoric from Britain and the United States contrasted
with a greater emphasis on diplomacy from Germany.
British Energy Minister Ed Davey said that Russian President
Vladimir Putin had "crossed a line" and that the G7 meeting had
taken a "strategic decision that we will face up to the use by
Russia of energy as a weapon".
Germany's Gabriel said that any solution to the long term
problem of energy security in Europe would have to rely on
"Pure technical changes in the energy market will not be
enough. The process needs to be accompanied by diplomacy and
politics and agreement on contracts between partners," he said.
With political action unlikely to produce any quick
solution, countries like Italy, which relies almost completely
on imported energy, are looking at widening its supply sources.
In addition to South Stream, Rome has been placing
increasing importance on completing the Trans Adriatic Pipeline
(TAP) to bring Azeri gas to Italy and is also looking at
developing a gas link with the east Mediterranean area.
Italy is also looking to develop at least three more LNG
terminals on top of the three it has to take shale gas from
North America, but U.S. export terminals will not be ready soon.
"A first project will be ready to start at the end of 2015
while another 6 terminals are planned but won't be ready till
the end of the decade," U.S. Energy Secretary Moniz said.
"The process however does not determine where the shipments
will go," he added.
(Editing by William Hardy)