IEA, Eurogas addresses gas supply security

European gas security has received high-level attention on two fronts.

Doris Leblond
OGJ Correspondent

PARIS, Oct. 19 -- European gas security has received high-level attention on two fronts.

On one front, a ministerial meeting in Paris of the International Energy Agency gave support to strengthened security measures.

"Energy security is no longer about oil but about gas in transparent energy markets", said IEA Executive Director Nobuo Tanaka at the end of the meeting, held Oct. 14-15.

While gas security has been on the agendas of past IEA ministerial meetings, the new attention follows disruptions of supply from Russia during disputes between the exporter and Ukraine, an important transit country.

Without mentioning that crisis, a press release at the end of the conference said IEA ministers gave “support for a strong IEA role in helping member countries improve their preparedness for potential gas supply disruptions."

Russia's minister of energy and the IEA issued a statement saying a joint seminar would be held in first-half 2010 "on developments in gas markets to enhance information exchange, gas market security, and transparency."

Noting that fossil fuels will continue to provide a "very large share of the energy throughout the world
for many years", IEA ministers recommended switching to fuels that minimize emissions of carbon dioxide, such as natural gas, “wherever practical.”

While emergency response systems for gas could draw on those set up for oil emergencies, "the difference between oil and gas markets and infrastructure" should be taken into account, and emergency measures should be taken "as a last resort," the ministers said.

Because of problems in locating emergency storage, they said, the proper approach may be for each IEA country to review its own gas market and security policies and prepare its own emergency measures.

The IEA would help countries establish its responses and would include gas disruption scenarios in IEA response exercises and reviews as well as encourage collective approaches in "close cooperation” with the European Union.

Eurogas initiative
On the other front, the governing board of the 49-member European Union of the Natural Gas Industry (Eurogas) on the day after the IEA ministerial meeting issued its comments on the draft Security of Gas Supply Regulation of the European Commission published in July.

Like the IEA, Eurogas believes each EU member should be left to carry out individually a thorough risk and impact assessment rather than have mandatory standards set up.

Eurogas is also concerned about EU provisions on reverse flows of gas in case of gas supply crises "if no previous assessment on technical and economic feasibility is carried out first."

Eurogas supports improved definition of crisis levels and clarification of the roles of stakeholders such as companies and the EU’s Gas Coordination Group.

Eurogas said "entrepreneurial flexibility" should be preserved as a "key condition for swift and efficient responses to emergency situations."

It asked that EU legislation "first of all promote a spirit of cooperation between the commission, industry, and member states."

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