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Interfax: Czech energy strategy paper calls for source diversification

Interfax: Czech energy strategy paper calls for source diversification

4.4.2007 15:57

PRAGUE. APRIL 4. INTERFAX CENTRAL EUROPE - Czech Ambassador-at-large Vaclav Bartuska, the country's special envoy for energy security, says the Foreign Ministry is on track to present a comprehensive energy strategy paper to the government by the June deadline, which calls for diversifying domestic energy sources while striving to preserve what leverage the country has as a transit route for Russian oil and natural gas.

"We are now assessing for the government, with a deadline of June this year, major threats that we see in all energy sectors - electricity, natural gas, oil, nuclear," Bartuska told Interfax on the margins of an energy security seminar Tuesday night. "We should strive to be as important [a transit route] in the future as we are now."

Keeping current transit routes via the Czech Republic is a key point in the strategy, according to Bartuska, whose comments came just hours after the European Commission endorsed construction of the so-called pan-European oil pipeline that would transport oil from Romania's Black Sea port Constanta to oil facilities in Trieste, Italy, from where it would connect to pipelines there that run to Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic.

"I don't think that 'security' should only be something that costs us money; being clever [by retaining leverage and transit fees] should also bring us some money," Bartuska said. "There are at least five different versions of how new pipelines might get oil through to Europe. Any pipeline that doesn't go through our country is a loss to us. This is the common strategy of many European countries. Hungarians speak about it quite openly, as do other countries."

New gas routes, such as the North European Gas Pipeline, formerly known as Nord Stream, between Russia and Germany, which would run under the Baltic Sea and thus bypass transit countries, much against the wishes of Warsaw, are also a concern for the Czech Republic.

"So we, of course, also have objections to the Nord Stream pipeline, for example, as it means no transit fees," he added. "And as we heard today from German-owned [dominant Czech natural gas supplier] RWE Transgas, transit fees account for 55% of the company's revenues."

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