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'Ukraine crisis won't affect Spain's gas supply'

George Mills · 4 Mar 2014, 11:33

Published: 04 Mar 2014 11:33 GMT+01:00

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A confrontation with Russia over developments in Ukraine would have "very serious consequences" for energy security in Europe, said Spain's foreign minister José Manuel García Margallo in comments made after a emergency meeting of EU ministers in Brussels.

Spain's top diplomat joined the EU in condemning "acts of aggression" by Russia in their decision to deploy troops in Crimea and also joined the EU in calling for Russian troops to return to barracks within 48 hours.

Margallo went on to highlight the need for dialogue with Russia over the Ukraine crisis saying the two parties were "condemned to come to an understanding".

But Margallo went off script to criticize the EU for over-reliance on Russian for gas supply. He highlighted the fact that Ukraine relied on Russia for "all" of its gas, while Europe received some 35 percent of its supplies from Russia.

Europe had been "miopic" in not "guaranteeing the interconnection between Spain and the rest of Europe" of supplies from Algeria and northern Africa, said the minister.

This "could be a good moment to reflect", he added. 

Opinions are divided on whether, and to what extent, Europe's gas supplies are threatened by the crisis in The Ukraine.

Many European nations have built up their own gas reserves since a 2005 crisis which saw lower pipe pressure in Europe after Ukraine refused to pay when Russian gas giant Gazprom more than doubled its prices.

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Demand for gas is also low after a warm winter in Europe and stockpiles mean the Ukraine crisis won't affect gas prices, according to financial news agency Bloomberg.

But Margallo said on Monday Spain would "not be affected anyway" because it obtained supplies from northern Africa.

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George Mills (george.mills@thelocal.com)

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