Statoil Sees Better European Gas-Supply Security Than Decade Ago

Statoil ASA, the biggest seller of gas to Europe after Russia’s OAO Gazprom, said the continent’s stability in fuel supplies has improved in the last decade, even as tensions over Ukraine have raised concerns over disruptions.

“From an energy-security perspective, the situation is actually better than it used to be in the last decade,” Statoil’s Chief Financial Officer Torgrim Reitan said in an interview with Bloomberg TV today. “The European market has developed significantly over the last decade. It’s now a liquid market, with multiple sources.”

Russia, which supplies about 30 percent of the European Union’s gas consumption, has threatened to cut off supplies to Ukraine unless the east-European country, ridden by a conflict between the central government and pro-Russian separatists, starts to prepay gas shipments after accumulating $3.5 billion in unpaid bills. More than half of Europe’s Russian gas is shipped through Soviet-era pipelines through Ukraine.

Tensions over Ukraine eased before yesterday’s presidential election in the country, as Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said he will work with the winner of the vote.

“Energy has always been geopolitical and it will remain so,” Reitan said. “But I also think it’s fair to say that the Russian supplies have remained stable and predictable for decades.”

Gazprom’s recent $400 billion deal to supply gas to China for 30 years “just demonstrates the importance” of that fuel and will come from reserves that aren’t meant for the European market, Reitan said.

Statoil will continue to supply Europe with a “significant” part of its gas needs from Norway, while the continent can also count on gas from Russia, North Africa and shipments of liquefied natural gas, he said.

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