MOSCOW Dec 1 Moscow and Brussels can work
out a dispute over the EU's Third Energy Package under existing
law, their top energy officials said on Thursday, suggesting
Russia might avoid a showdown over pipelines with its most
Russia has expressed anger over European Union regulations,
known as the third energy package, that seek to liberalise the
European gas market by barring suppliers from controlling the
transport infrastructure used to deliver their gas.
"We realise that the third energy package is a set of laws
which will be ratified as a matter of obligation," Russia's
Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said after meeting European Union
Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger.
"We determined that we can resolve this under current
legislation," he said.
Russian export monopoly Gazprom, which supplies a
quarter or more of Europe's gas via expensively built
transnational pipeline systems, says such investments make no
sense if it cannot benefit from them as an energy supplier.
Last month at the launch of the new Gazprom-led Nord Stream
pipeline, which will carry 55 billion cubic metres per year of
Russian gas, German Chanceller Angela Merkel told Oettinger the
EU should change what it "could not explain", suggesting Germany
Oettinger, speaking in German through a Russian translator,
told the news conference that changes to the third package were
"undesirable and unrealistic".
"At the same time there are possibilities for relief and
exceptions," he said.
Shmatko and Oettinger, who co-chair an EU-Russia working
group on energy, said they would meet again in coming months in
the presence of regulators from individual EU states.
"I would not rule out resolving a fair number of regulatory
conflicts (over pipelines) at the level of national regulators,"
Shmatko told reporters after the meeting.
Some Russian energy analysts believe Russia could strike a
compromise with the EU which would ensure third parties had
adequate access to Gazprom-controlled pipeline infrastructure
and meet third package principles without any change in control.
Oettinger declined to comment on the substance of the
investigations, and said such checks were routine for the
commission's competition authorities across European industry.
(Reporting by Melissa Akin and Vladimir Soldatkin; editing by
John Bowker and Keiron Henderson)