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EU says will keep talking to Russia about gas

Written by: Staff

DOHA, Apr 23 (Reuters) Europe will keep talking with energy power house Russia about gas supplies but the bloc is also keen to look elsewhere to satisfy its energy needs, Europe's energy commissioner said on Sunday.

Commissioner Andris Piebalgs added that any ruling on Russian gas monopoly Gazprom's acquisition attempts in Europe would be determined by normal competition rules.

He was speaking days after Gazprom, the world's biggest gas producer and supplier of a quarter of Europe's gas, threatened to export elsewhere if its European expansion was blocked.

Gazprom has already turned off the taps to Europe once this year in a pricing dispute with its neighbour Ukraine, transit route for 80 percent of Gazprom's supplies to Europe.

''Clearly we need to continue our dialogue with Russia,'' Piebalgs told reporters on the sidelines of talks here between the world's energy consumers and producers.

''Competition should prevail in the market. It's quite normal for Russia to look to diversify customers and for us to look to diversify suppliers.'' Gazprom delivered its broadside to Europe after it emerged Britain's competition regulators had proposed changing takeover rules amid market speculation that the Russian company may bid for the UK's biggest gas distributor Centrica .

''Whenever we take decisions on mergers and acquisitions, we always look at the competition policy,'' said Piebalgs.

Russia's oil minister, who is also in Doha for the talks, will hold a news conference on energy security on Monday.

Analysts say Europe will remain the core market for Gazprom for at least a century and the company only wants bigger access to gas distribution in Europe. Consumer nations note however that Russia's gas sector is closed to foreigners.


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