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Europe's dependence on Russian gas to remain in near future -- German expert

Europe cannot reduce energy dependence on supplies from Russia in the near future despite signals sent by Western leaders in the light of the Ukraine crisis, says Friedbert Pflueger, director of the European Centre for Energy and Resource Security (EUCERS).

In an article published by Germany's leading business and finance daily, Handelsblatt, on Monday, the expert said that while discussing the issue, "a very significant aspect" was usually overlooked.

"Diversifying gas supplies (to Europe) will only be possible by the end of this decade," he said. "Besides, considering that Europe is running out of natural gas, Russian energy supplies will be in great demand in 2030 as well."

Pflueger noted that US supplies of liquefied natural gas produced by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, could be a theoretically possible alternative. But this was also connected with certain problems. Firstly, this kind of export would be mainly oriented towards Asian countries. Secondly, its price would not be as low as Europeans wanted due to its high production and shipping costs.

"Whether we want it or not, our energy dependence on Russia will still remain for a rather long time, even if we manage to slightly reduce it," Pflueger said.

"EU strategy aimed at diversification of energy sources is right in terms of politics and economy," he added. "However, it should be used with caution, avoiding populist decisions made in a hurry and taking into account the importance of Russian supplies for European enterprises and consumers that will remain for a long time."

[Source: Itar Tass, Berlin, 31Mar14]

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