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EU unveils energy plan

Reuters, Financial Express
The European Commission approved a plan to cut EU energy use by 20% by 2020 on Thursday, a day before European leaders raise their concerns about oil and gas supplies with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

The plan for increased efficiency in buildings, cars, power generators and electrical products comes as demand and competition for energy is growing worldwide and EU doubts have grown about the reliability of Russian supplies. In Moscow on Thursday, a senior Kremlin aide reiterated Russian objections to ratifying an Energy Charter the EU wants to see governing energy activity across the Eurasian continent.
(20 Oct 2006)

Europe faces threat of power shortages

Ed Crooks, Financial Times
Europe faces the growing threat of electricity shortages because growth in demand has outstripped investment in new power stations, a leading consultancy has warned.

Capgemini, the consultancy, said operating at such low margin levels raised the risk of power shortages, including interruption of supply to large industrial users, “brownouts” – reductions in supply voltage – and blackouts.

Colette Lewiner of Cap­gemini said the study should be a “wake-up call” for the energy industry, governments and regulators.

“We are in a dangerous zone now,” she said. “We could have power cuts.”

The average margin – the excess of available electricity supply over peak-load demand – dropped to just 4.8 per cent in the winter of 2005-06, down one percentage point from the previous year.

The UK, France, Belgium and Greece are among the countries with the lowest levels of spare capacity.
(12 Oct 2006)

Experts Predict Black-Out Winters in Europe

Russian gas exports to Europe will grow no more than 25 percent and will not surpass 200 billion cu. before 2016, a report of the Oxford Institute of Energy Studies says. Russian is unable to cover a growing energy demand of Europe, and as soon as in 2010 the European Union will face a gas shortage. As early as in winter 2006 it will take its toll on the European energy industry, sparkling power shortfalls, analysts from Cap Gemini says.

Vladimir Putin’s new energy initiatives and calls of the French-German council for Russia to keep to the EU Energy Charter have made analysts to reconsider the energy industry of the European Union. The Oxford Institute of Energy Studies (OIES) released a report on Friday examining the short-term outlook of the European energy market. The researchers say that Gazprom will be unable to keep on increasing gas exports to Europe in 2010. As soon as in 2016, Europe will be unable to cover the growing energy demand. As early as in 2010, Europe may experience first breaks in supplies.
(14 Oct 2006)

EU losing faith in Russia energy charter scheme

Andrew Rettman, EU Observer
The EU is coming round to the realisation that Russia will not in the foreseeable future ratify the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) – a major deal on energy market access – with the European Commission set to offer Russia an alternative energy market model in its new pact for EU-Russia relations.

“The Russians are not very keen [on ECT ratification],” an EU official close to the talks told EUobserver on Tuesday (17 October). “So the main alternative would be to get the most important points into the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement [a post-2007 EU-Russia bilateral pact]. That’s what we’re looking at.”

The ECT is a set of legally-binding rules on access to pipelines, investment in new markets and arbitration of energy disputes that dates back to 1991 and aims to create a “level playing field” between EU states and countries from the former Soviet Union.
(17 Oct 2006)

Putin v. Europe

Martin Walker, UPI
This weekend’s Finland summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and European Union leaders was intended to be a friendly and informal affair. Instead, the Europeans are arriving with clenched teeth and narrowed eyes, increasingly suspicious of Russian behavior but fearing that their energy dependency on Russia leaves them few cards to play.

Energy is the EU’s strategic concern, but human rights groups and members of the European Union and the various national parliaments have mobilized considerable pressure for the EU leaders to make clear their growing alarm at Russia’s trend toward authoritarian rule.
(18 Oct 2006)

Who controls EU gas transit?

Andrew Rettman, EU Observer
The European Commission keeps repeating promises there will be no rerun of last winter’s EU gas crisis, but some analysts say lack of transparency in Russia-Ukraine gas contracts and political instability in Ukraine give cause for concern.

… some experts at leading EU think-tank CEPS are concerned about lack of transparency surrounding the key Russia-Ukraine $130 deal, which was signed between the Swiss-registered Russian-Ukrainian joint venture, RosUkrEnergo and Russian-Ukrainian joint venture UkrGasEnergo.

The two obscure firms, which were set up in the wake of last January’s gas crunch, are keeping the terms of the contract secret. Nobody in Europe knows who the shareholders of RosUkrEnergo are and whose signatures appear on a contract that was probably negotiated at senior political level.
(19 Oct 2006)
From an article entitled ‘EU soothes fears of new winter gas crisis’