ASTANA SEEN FROM ROMANIA (Astana vista dalla Romania)

The State Secretary of the Romanian Ministry of Economy, Tudor Sherban, spoke in an interview with Trend Capital correspondent.

Cooperation in energy was discussed during the eighth session of the Kazakh-Romanian inter-governmental commission on trade and economic cooperation in Astana today. You mentioned two projects - "Nabucco" and "Constanta - Trieste".

How does Romania appreciate Kazakhstan's participation in two these projects?

We think that the role of Kazakhstan in the Nabucco project is very important. Kazakhstan has its own gas reserves. It is known that Kazakhstan participates in some projects in Turkmenistan. So, certain gas reserves can be directed to the "Nabucco" from there.

Moreover, part of those gas volumes, which are under contracts with Russia, can be also supplied to "Nabucco". But it will be possible with the consent of all parties. The recent visit of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to Turkey encourages on this regards.

As Romania is involved in "Nabucco", I think that it will be possible to agree in coordination with other partners given other projects which Russia promotes in our region (the Balkans).

Azerbaijan is important partner for us in the Caspian region. it is our reliable gas supplier. We know that Azerbaijan has expressed its intention to participate with its gas in the Nabucco project. We welcome and fully support this decision. Moreover, Azerbaijan has strategically important location in the junction of transportation routes.

I would like to inform that Romania has plans to build a new terminal in Constanta for liquefied gas storage.

How do you appreciate Kazakhstan's participation in the project pipeline 'Constanta - Trieste'?

The Kazakh side made a request to participate in the negotiations on the project a year ago. It means for us that Kazakhstan is interested in participating in this project. At present, the project of "Constanta - Trieste" pipeline is at the stage of organizing. A consortium has been already established and its head has been appointed. But, unfortunately, one of the participants of the project - Croatia has blocked the course of negotiations and actions.

But the issue concerning drawing investments will occur soon, when goals of each company from the countries-participants of the project, through which the pipeline is laid, are defined.

From our point of view, Kazakhstan will be able to participate in this project, along with Romania. If it enters with investments, it will automatically mean that Kazakhstan can have certain package of shares.

What Kazakh share is indicated in the project?

It is difficult to name any specific figure without development of feasibility study. But when it is ready, it will be known about shares of all sides after determining the cost. Kazakhstan will be able to join the project as oil supplier in future. Thus, Kazakhstan can enter the center of Europe through Romania, providing its oil via Constanta - Trieste pipeline.

It dealt with establishment of energy bridge of Batumi - Constanta at one time. What are its prospects?

We hope that the geopolitical climate in the South Caucasus will stabilize. Georgia has great importance to ensure transit routes and gas, oil and other goods supplies, to Europe. We hope that the situation will normalize, because one can not talk about politics without economy, and Batumi is an important transportation hub in the region.

Moreover, the Black Sea and Batumi port are direct access to Europe. Therefore, stabilization of the situation in Georgia is in interests of the same Caspian countries to have direct access to the Black Sea.

How do you assess entry of the national KazMunaiGaz on the Romanian market by buying shares of Rompetrol?

Positively. At present, our companies, including the national oil company, OMV, faced with fierce competition in the person of KMG. But these are the laws of the market. It is very good. As a recommendation, I would like to advise KMG to be more transparent with the Romanian public authorities.


THE NEW UKRAINE (La nuova Ucraina)

Gazprom on Wednesday opened a new pipeline across Lithuania that will allow the Russian gas company to increase supplies to Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave between Lithuania and Poland.

It will also allow Gazprom to boost natural gas supplies to Lithuania, which is braced for an energy deficit after it closes a Soviet-era nuclear plant in December.

The opening of the pipeline — dubbed Red Junction — took place amid much fanfare near the Susepe River, located on the border between Lithuania and the Kaliningrad region.

The pipeline stretches 139 kilometers (86 miles) and will have a total annual capacity of 2.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas. Valery Golubev, Gazprom's deputy CEO, said the pipeline would allow the company to double gas supplies to the Kaliningrad region.

Viktoras Valentukevicius, head of Lithuania's gas company Lietuvos Dujos, said the pipeline was essential for the Baltic state.

"Natural gas will become a key energy resource for our country for decades. This line is very important for Lithuania as a guarantee of stable energy supplies from Russia," he said.

Lietuvos Dujos is 38.9 percent owned by Gazprom, the world's largest natural gas producer.

Many Lithuanians are apprehensive about the increasing reliance on Russian gas that the new pipeline signifies. In December Lithuania will shut down its Soviet-era reactor in Ignalina, which practically overnight will transform the Baltic state of 3.4 million people from a net energy exporter to an energy importer.

Since the country has no direct link to the European electricity grid, it has no choice but to import more energy from Russia.

But Moscow's snap decisions in the past to cut off supplies to Ukraine and Belarus, make many Lithuanians fear that Russia is an unreliable energy supplier.

"Vilnius should not forget that the Kremlin is using Gazprom not only as economic, but also a very efficient political tool," said Raimundas Lopata, director of the International Relations and Political Science Institute in Vilnius.

Gazprom said it expects to make the first shipments of gas in the new pipeline in December.
(Kyiv Post)