Oettinger hails ‘historic day’ as first EU-Moldova pipeline opens


Moldova will take its first steps towards diversifying its energy supplies today (27 August) when it inaugurates a gas pipeline with the EU, so ending its energy dependence on Russia.

Perhaps symbolically, the pipeline is being launched on Moldova’s Independence Day.

By the end of 2014, European gas companies will now be able to deliver up to a third of the country’s gas supplies.

"This is a historic day,” said Günther Oettinger, the EU’s energy commissioner. “We are celebrating that Moldova will be directly connected to the EU gas market. This will enhance its energy security and reduce its dependence from the only supplier it has now."

Brussels has paid out €7 million of the project’s €28 million costs.

Later today, Oettinger, the Romanian prime minister Victor Ponta and Moldova’s prime minister, Iurie Leanc?, will jointly inaugurate the new pipeline which will run from Ia?i to Ungheni.

Bucharest sees the project as demonstrating its role as “a crucial partner […] in the effort for European integration,” between Moldova and the EU according to government sources quoted in the Romanian media.

Since 2010, Moldova has been a member of the European 'Energy Community' which aims to extend the EU's internal energy market to eastern countries such as Albania, the states of the former Yugoslavia, and Ukraine.

Last year, Russia's president Vladimir Putin told Moldova that it had to choose between cheap imported Russian gas and moves towards greater European integration.

Moldova also plans to import natural gas from Iraq, which will transit through Iran, according to Iranian news reports.

EU countries negotiate their gas imports with the Russian monopoly Gazprom individually. Gazprom sells its gas with considerable price differences. The company is largely seen as the arm of Russia’s foreign policy and its deals often “reward” or “punish” individual countries.

Outside the EU, the most drastic examples are Belarus, a country with closer relations to Moscow, which pays $100 (€76) per 1,000 cubic metres, while Ukraine, another former Soviet republic, pays $416 (€314) per thousand cubic metres. Ukraine is trying to negotiate a fairer price at $250 (€189).

On 4 September, the Commission opened an investigation into Gazprom for alleged abuse of its dominant position.

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