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G7 consults on alternatives to Russian gas

Energy ministers of the G7 group of the world's wealthiest industrial nations met in Rome on Tuesday to discuss alternatives to Russian natural gas supplies. Europe buys about a third of its gas from Russia.

G7 energy ministers held a special meeting in Rome on Tuesday to discuss how to reduce Europe's dependence on Russian gas imports. The meeting of ministers from Germany, USA, Canada, Italy, UK, France, and Japan is part of the preparations for a major G7 summit to be held in early June in Brussels.

Until recently, the G7 was the G8 - Russia was the eighth member. But Russia was suspended from the group in light of the geopolitical tussle over Ukraine. Now G7 nations are looking for ways to reduce Russia's economic leverage over Europe, which relies on Russia for about a third of its gas supplies.

Ministers are discussing a draft 13-point plan that foresees greater connectivity in the gas pipeline network, and investment in gas storage facilities as well as low-carbon energy supplies and energy efficiency improvements. The details of what will be funded will be left to member nations, because of differing priorities - for example, the UK prefers investments in nuclear power, Germany in renewable energy.

Could American LNG replace Russian gas?

USA and Canada have offered to provide Europe with supplies of LNG, or liquefied natural gas, as an alternative. But LNG is more expensive than pipeline gas - and there are other difficulties with the LNG option as well.

EU seeks alternative energy supplies

Supplying Europe with significant volumes of LNG would require massive investments in LNG tanker ports and years of construction time. And it is unclear whether sufficient supplies of North American natural gas, even given the fracking boom, would be available to replace Russian gas over the long term.

German Economics and Energy Minister, Sigmar Gabriel, said that greater efforts to achieve energy efficiency, for example through better building insulation, should be a key part of Europe's energy security solution - but that there is no quick fix to Europe's reliance on Russia as a major gas supplier.

nz/ng (dpa, europa.eu)

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