The CEO of the Austrian state-owned energy company OMV, Rainer Seele, has said in an interview with Neue Zürcher Zeitung that Russia has shown itself to be a reliable partner in terms of gas supplies even in the toughest years, something which is confirmed by the fact that the EU has struck contracts with the gas giant until the year 2040. The OMV CEO added that new suppliers to the EU need to uphold the same standards.
"We, as Europeans, are well advised to sign contracts for natural gas supplies from other regions of the world. However, these suppliers must be as reliable as Russia has been in terms of gas supplies for the last 50 years", he said.
Commenting on the prospects of LNG on the EU market, especially coming from the US, Seele noted that American liquefied natural gas would not add to the competitiveness of the European market. The head of the OMV explained that US LNG is too expensive and would increase the costs for EU industrial companies, rendering them uncompetitive versus their American rivals.
Seele also denied the idea that the Nord Stream 2 project could divide the EU, pointing out that it is more likely to happen due to more pressing European issues.
"Russia can't divide Europe. There's no reason to say that. The EU can only be divided if it doesn't resolve its internal issues. We Europeans should focus on ourselves and seek unity. The upcoming Brexit can do much more [harm] to the EU", he said.
Nord Stream 2 is a joint venture of Russian gas giant Gazprom and five European companies. It aims to deliver 55 billion cubic metres (1.9 trillion cubic feet) of Russian natural gas to the European Union annually. The pipeline project has been welcomed by some countries in Europe and opposed by others, who have raised concerns over the alleged danger of European dependence on Russian energy supplies.
Earlier, France supported amendments to the Gas Directive that would allow the European Commission to gain leverage over the Russian-European pipeline venture. However, Paris and Berlin, which strongly supports Nord Stream 2, later arrived at a compromise agreement that allows Germany to function as the key negotiator with Russia on the pipeline project.