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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EU Official Says Gazprom Not Too Strong

bloombergGazprom deputy CEO Alexander Medvedev listening to Piebalgs at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January.
PARIS -- Gazprom is not too strong and does not pose a major challenge to the European Union's energy market, the 27-nation bloc's energy chief said Thursday.

"Gazprom is very strong but I would not say too strong," Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs told reporters.

"It has a lot of projects in mind, like pipelines, but we will see how many will come on stream. The EU market is really functioning, so Gazprom has never been big enough to be a real challenge for us."

Russia supplies about 25 percent of the EU's gas. Gazprom has shown interest in expanding in Europe's downstream distribution market, while European companies want more access to Gazprom pipelines.

The company has criticized proposals by the European Commission that would force energy companies to separate their generation and distribution activities to create more competition in the EU market.

The proposal, which is being developed into draft legislation, is widely seen as being one that would hurt Gazprom. Russia has also been wary of EU plans to diversify its energy resources, particularly by greatly increasing the share of renewable sources in the bloc's overall consumption.

Piebalgs said EU polices were not working against its main energy supplier.

"It is obvious Russia likes the price of energy and needs a fair price, but the EU needs to diversify its energy source and routes," he said. "Our policies are not working against Russia. We need to work within the legal frameworks of Russia and Europe."