FRANKFURT Aug 28 European Energy Commissioner
Guenther Oettinger said on Thursday the bloc was seeking to fill
its gas storage facilities and de-escalate a row between Ukraine
and Russia in order to safeguard its own gas shipments from
Russia in the 2014/15 winter.
Ukraine warned Europe on Wednesday Russia could cut off gas
to the continent this winter, but Moscow said the supplies would
continue regardless of the political situation.
Oettinger told Germany's ARD television diplomacy to defuse
tensions between Kiev and Moscow was of the highest importance.
"We need a solution that prevents an escalation between
Ukraine and Russia," he said. "We need Ukraine as a transit
country. Ukraine needs gas in winter. In a long and cold winter,
Ukraine will not have enough stored gas of its own."
Three-way gas consultations will take place in Moscow on
Friday between Russia, Ukraine and the EU. Russia cut supplies
to Ukraine in June, and there were transit spats and supply
disruptions in 2006 and 2009, which spilled over into Europe.
Ukraine, which consumes over 50 billion cubic metres of gas
(bcm) per annum, half that of Germany, could be tempted to
divert gas aimed for the EU for its own uses, Oettinger said.
Europe, which receives around a third of its gas for
industry and heating from Russia, has meanwhile escalated moves
to take its own precautions, he said.
"We are getting ready. We have a daily debate - how can we
fill those storage facilities," he said.
EU leaders are due to present a plan in October for ensuring
gas supplies are sufficient over the winter.
German gas imports have so far not been impaired by the
crisis as transit deliveries have normal and much of the volume
destined for Germany bypasses Ukraine, for example via the Nord
Official data to June shows no let-up in deliveries out of
Russia, which supplied 38 percent of German imports.
(Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by David Evans)