VIENNA May 8 - European Energy Commissioner
Guenther Oettinger is not troubled by plans to bring the Russian
South Stream gas pipeline to Austria, although the Commission
has raised some objections with Vienna, he told a newspaper.
Austrian energy firm OMV agreed last week with
Russia's state-controlled Gazprom to bring the South
Stream pipeline to Austria's Baumgarten gas hub, outmanoeuvring
Italy, which had wanted it to end there.
The deal showed that while EU officials are calling for
Europe to wean itself off Russian gas, private and state-owned
firms are pushing ahead with projects to buy ever more.
"The pipeline is not a problem for me. We don't want to
block it but it does not have priority either," Oettinger told
Austrian paper Der Standard. "This isn't new gas, rather a
different route that should no longer go through Ukraine."
He noted, however, the project had to meet EU requirements
for environmental protection, tendering, competition and energy
law, especially on giving access to third parties and splitting
gas production from operating the infrastructure.
"We review these points even in agreements between some
member states and Russia. We have already written to Austria to
criticise several points that in our view are at odds with EU
law," he said in an interview released ahead of publication on
Asked if he expected EU approval for South Stream, he said:
"I don't yet have the basis for a final opinion. What is clear
is that all investors are welcome whether they pay in dollars,
euros or roubles."
(Reporting by Michael Shields, editing by William Hardy)