Gazprom And OMV Chiefs Discuss Alternative European Gas Routes

Posted by Joseph R. Fonseca
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Gazprom & OMV talks


The chief executives of Gazprom and OMV held talks on Tuesday about supplying Russian gas to Europe using routes that bypass Ukraine, they said in a statement.

Gazprom's Alexei Miller and OMV's Gerhard Roiss said they had discussed "optional alternative supply routes" including the Nord Stream and Opal pipelines.

Russia's seizure of Crimea from Ukraine - an important transit country for Russian gas - has resulted in European Union and U.S. sanctions, sparking fears of supply cuts that could affect several European countries.

Earlier on Tuesday Gazprom said that Russian gas exports to Europe throughUkraine, through which almost half of Russia's Europe-bound gas passes, remained stable despite the standoff between Moscow and Kiev.

Nord Stream pumps gas from Russia via the Baltic Sea into northeastern Germanybut is underused. Gazprom says it could pump more if it were granted full access to the Opal pipeline, which was designed to link Nord Stream to the Czech Republic.

Gazprom requires EU approval for full access to Opal, but the process has been stalled by the Ukraine crisis.

The future of Moscow's 2,400km (1,500 miles) South Stream pipeline project from Russia to southern Europe via the Black Sea, avoiding Ukraine, has also been in doubt since Russia's annexation of Crimea.

Miller and Roiss did not mention South Stream in their statement, but Miller said: "The current geopolitical situation proves the importance of alternative routes for Russian gas supplies to European consumers."

The joint statement was released after a meeting at the Vienna headquarters of Austrian oil and gas group OMV, Gazprom's longest-standing Western partner, which the two said consolidated their partnership.

OMV and Gazprom are in negotiations to bring the price OMV pays Gazprom for its long-term gas supplies down towards spot market levels. An OMV spokesman said that topic was not part of the talks on Tuesday.

OMV's Roiss warned at the weekend that new economic sanctions against Russia could be counter-productive.

(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan and Alexandra Schwarz-Goerlich; Editing by Erica Billingham and David Goodman)

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