G8 urges Russia to secure reliable energy supplies

Finance ministers of the world’s eight most industrialised nations urged Moscow to ratify an energy charter treaty at the weekend after a spat with Ukraine in January highlighted Europe’s dependence on Russian gas supplies.

In their final statement issued in Moscow on 11 February the ministers said “market mechanisms are vital to the effective functioning of the global energy system”. The statement added that efforts should be pursued to “help enhance transparency, timeliness and reliability of demand and supply data, facilitate necessary investments in exploration, production, transportation, and refining capacity, as well as improve energy efficiency”.

France’s Thierry Breton led calls for Russia to ratify the 1991 Energy Charter Treaty, a legally binding instrument promoting east-west industrial cooperation in areas such as investment, transit and trade.

“It is in the interest of Europe as a whole for Russia to find a way of ratifying this charter,” he told AFX news in Moscow.

Russian finance minister Alexei Kudrin made a cautious move in that direction, saying: “In the future, access to the export pipeline will become equal. I am not ready to say when that will happen,” Reuters reported.

The brief interruption of supplies to Kiev in the so-called Russia-Ukraine ‘gas war’ in January 2006 highlighted Europe’s dependency on Moscow for a quarter of its gas consumption and put energy supply security firmly on top of the EU’s agenda (EURACTIV, 5 Jan. 2006).

Russia has made energy security issues the leading theme of its G8 Presidency this year.

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