MEPs call for beefed-up energy security policy

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MEPs yesterday (16 September) urged the European Commission to beef up the early-warning mechanisms that failed during the gas supply crisis in January.

The proposed Security of Gas Supply Directive and investments in energy infrastructure provide greater certainty, but early-warning mechanisms need to be reviewed, according to a resolution adopted by the European Parliament plenary. It said that upgrading the Network of Energy Security Correspondents (NESCO) could help avoid future supply disruptions.

Furthermore, they urged the member states to expand their gas storage capacity.

The lawmakers welcomed the €250 million investment into energy infrastructure under the European Economic Recovery Plan. But MEPs argued that both public and private investment needs to be upped to improve interconnections.

MEPs also approved of the idea of a European “supergrid” of electricity and gas, which the re-elected Commission President José Manuel Barroso outlined as one of the priorities for the incoming EU executive (EURACTIV 07/09/09). 

The Parliament said that the Nabucco pipeline project in particular would help Europe to rid itself of its dependence on Russian gas. But it asked the Commission to “take action against hostile bids by non-transparent foreign entities in the EU market”.

The resolution cited the case of Surgutneftegas, which saw the Russian oil and gas company, considered close to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, seize control of 21.2% of Hungary’s MOL petrochemical group, with the aim of taking over this key member of the Nabucco gas pipeline consortium (EURACTIV 18/05/09).

The company’s failure to disclose its ownership structure to the Hungarian energy market regulator raised suspicions about political motives. Moreover, experts raised the alarm about possible strategic motivations, as the company spent more than twice its market value on the deal.

In addition to Nabucco, MEPs said the Desertec initiative, aimed at supplying Europe with North African solar thermal energy, is a promising example of diversifying the energy market (EURACTIV 22/07/09). 

Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs told the Parliament that the projects mentioned at the sitting would fit well into the EU’s strategy of securing its energy supplies while contributing to climate protection in third countries. But he cautioned that while transit issues had already been solved for the Nabucco project, Desertec would need a step-by-step approach, starting with technology development.

“It’s still a new initiative and at this stage we can’t say that Desertec is part of our security of supply strategy,” the commissioner concluded.

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