EU gets cool reception from Russia on energy deregulation plan

Brussels, Belgium — (METERING.COM) — October 24, 2007 – The EU reportedly received a cool reception when it briefed Russian officials on an energy deregulation plan that would force Moscow’s state-owned Gazprom to shed its stakes in EU energy interests.

At the meeting in Moscow, EU officials outlined their energy deregulation plan, which aims to boost competition and investment, and requires European energy producers to shed their power grids and gas pipelines. It proposed the same for foreign energy companies wishing to enter EU gas and electricity markets, such as Gazprom.

The Russian monopoly supplies 25 percent of the EU’s gas needs and has stakes in EU energy businesses in half a dozen EU nations, all of which it may need to give up.

At the same time Russian President Vladimir Putin and senior EU officials, including European Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, were meeting for twice-annual summit talks at which energy is a key topic.

The EU is the largest consumer of Russian energy products, taking 63 percent of Russian oil exports and 65 percent of its gas exports. Russia is also the single largest foreign supplier of oil, accounting for 27 percent of EU oil imports.

"Energy is the biggest single issue in our economic relationship," Mandelson said. However because of the structure of the energy sector in Russia, and the lack of a bilateral legal framework for energy trade and investment between us, there is a widespread concern that energy trade has been politicized and become less predictable."