* Options include more integrated market
* Britain wants EU support for indigenous energy supplies
By Barbara Lewis
BRUSSELS, March 20 Europe has a range of options
to shore up its energy security and cut dependence on Russian
supplies, including asking the United States to export more gas
and working with Iraq, a British government document says.
Following Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region,
talks between European Union leaders in Brussels on Thursday and
Friday are focusing on how Europe can make itself less reliant
on Russian gas pumped via Ukraine.
The 28 EU states also want to be in a position to supply
Ukraine with energy should Russia cut off supplies. They are
expected to ask the Commission, the EU executive, to draw up an
in-depth study of EU energy security by June this year.
Britain's discussion paper, circulated to other EU
governments and seen by Reuters, calls for a 25-year plan as
well as measures for the nearer term.
It says this week's talks "should make clear that Europe
will work in a coordinated and expedited manner to reduce its
high energy dependency rates".
At their meeting in Brussels, EU leaders are also discussing
to how ramp up their response to the crisis in Crimea, amid
growing doubts over whether they are united enough to impose
hard-hitting sanctions on Moscow.
The EU has however already taken steps to diversify its
energy sources in response to previous crises when Russia cut
off supplies to Ukraine.
It has backed a new link, the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, to
import Azeri gas and has improved infrastructure to allow gas to
be pumped from the EU into Ukraine, rather than the other way
But analysts say that if Russia turned off supplies for any
length of time, Europe would still face major problems.
Britain says in its discussion paper that exploration of how
to ship Iraqi gas to Europe should be intensified, and
cooperation with other strategic partners enhanced.
EU-U.S. energy talks should examine how to bring about gas
exports from the United States to the European Union, it said,
and consider how that could be reflected in transatlantic trade
The United States has begun granting licences to export
liquefied natural gas, but progress has been slow because of
political sensitivities about keeping most of the gas for
domestic use in the United States.
Analysts say the natural destination for U.S. exports would
be Asia, where gas prices are higher than in Europe, although
even limited shipments to the European Union could be of help.
Britain - which only receives a small amount of Russian gas
during peak winter demand via a pipeline link to continental
Europe - is proposing U.S. gas as just one of many options.
It also urges EU authorities to help member states exploit
their own resources through regulation on completion of a
single, liberalised energy market and targeted aid.
Already Britain has successfully lobbied against more
onerous EU legislation that might have thwarted its aim to
develop shale gas.
With France's EDF, Britain is also seeking to build
a new nuclear plant, but the Commission has raised concerns
Britain's funding plans break EU competition law.
"The European Commission should prioritise energy state aid
cases to facilitate rapid deployment of infrastructure in the EU
ensuring security of supply," the discussion paper says.
(Additional reporting by Oleg Vukmanovic in London; Editing by