* Measures include developing shale gas, renewables
* Renewed call to enforce rules on pipeline ownership
* EU-U.S. trade talks seek more access to U.S. supplies
By Barbara Lewis and Robin Emmott
BRUSSELS, March 11 Russia's seizure of the
Crimea region of Ukraine is spurring the European Union to renew
efforts to end decades of dependence on Russian gas by
developing its own energy supplies and pushing for greater
access to abundant U.S. resources.
Ukraine is an important transit route for shipping Russian
gas by pipeline to the EU, which relies on Moscow for about a
third of its supplies.
Past supply disruption because of pricing disputes between
Moscow and Kiev had already motivated EU leaders to seek
alternatives to Russian gas.
Now Russia's seizure of Crimea has increased the bloc's
focus on diversifying energy sources to reduce exposure to
political risk, notably in those eastern member states that rely
most on Russia's gas.
"The European Council is concerned about Europe's high
energy dependency rates, especially on gas, and calls for
intensifying efforts to reduce them, especially in the most
dependent member states," said a draft document prepared for a
summit of EU leaders in Brussels on March 20-21.
"Europe needs to further diversify its energy supply,
continue to develop renewable and other indigenous energy
sources and coordinate the development of the infrastructure to
support this diversification," the document said.
The wording on energy dependency was not in an earlier
version of the document circulated before Russian forces seized
At the same time, at trade talks in Brussels this week, EU
negotiators will press U.S. counterparts to agree a framework to
make it easier for the country's liquefied natural gas (LNG) to
flow to the European Union, EU officials said.
"One of the solutions to the European Union's energy
dependence on Russia is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment
Partnership," EU trade spokesman John Clancy said. "The crisis
in Ukraine can help to focus minds."
The United States has begun granting licences to export LNG,
but progress has been slow because of price concerns and
industrial lobbying to keep most of the gas for domestic use in
the United States.
The EU wants the trade deal with the U.S. to make licence
approval for LNG exports to Europe automatic.
SOLUTIONS TAKE TIME
How much U.S. energy will reach Europe remains to be seen as
trade talks are likely to drag on for years and many politicians
are wary of releasing supplies that could drive up domestic
Asia would also get the biggest share of any upsurge in U.S.
exports, analysts say, as LNG prices in Asia are twice as high
as in Europe.
Other solutions to Europe's energy dependence could be
greater reliance on renewable energy from sources such as solar
and wind, as well as development of its own shale gas reserves.
Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger is also pushing for
completion of the single energy market to maximise available
energy by shipping any surpluses across borders.
Single energy market rules state Russia's Gazprom
cannot dominate pipelines through which it pumps gas on EU
That means Gazprom's plan to build the South Stream pipeline
to southern Europe breaches EU law known as the Third Energy
The draft document, dated March 10, calls for "effective and
consistent implementation of the Third Energy Package by all
players in the European energy market".
RUSSIA PUSHES ON
Previous European efforts to bring new gas suppliers to
Central Europe have largely failed.
The Nabucco pipeline project, intended to bring Central
Asian gas into the region, was ditched last year.
Instead the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which will pump
around 10 bcm of gas each year from Azerbaijan towards the end
of this decade, will go to Italy via Turkey, Greece and Albania,
leaving Central Europe still mostly reliant on Russia.
Russia's Gazprom, disregarding a European
Commission announcement it had frozen talks, on Tuesday said it
expected to sign deals this month on building the huge South
Stream pipeline to carry gas to central and southern Europe
without crossing Ukraine.
"South Stream is confidently moving ahead. Agreements on the
laying of the first leg of the pipeline will be signed before
the end of March, as well as agreements on the supplies of
pipelines for the second leg," Gazprom said after the South
Stream consortium, which it leads, met in Switzerland.
While Europe relies on Russia to supply a third of its gas
needs, Moscow depends even more on revenues from the European
Union, which make up around 80 percent of Gazprom's gas export
The 2,400 km (1,500-mile) South Stream pipeline, which
Gazprom says will be fully operational by 2018, would be able to
supply over 60 billion cubic metres (bcm), or almost 15 percent
of Europe's annual gas demand.