Russian President Vladimir Putin is to attend a summit between the European Union (E.U.) and Russia on October 30th to discuss a long-term plan to secure natural gas supplies for E.U. markets, according to a top Russian negotiator on October 27th.
The summit, to be held in Paris, will focus on a range of trade and cooperation issues, including E.U. Commission President Romano Prodi’s proposal to double Russian energy exports to the E.U. over the next 20 years.
Prodi will outline the details of his plan, which will likely focus on increased gas supplies. As any increase in exports of oil or gas from Russia would require significant infrastructure upgrades, it is expected that the plan will lead to public and private investment from E.U. member countries in return for a twenty-year supply agreement.
Russia currently provides 20 percent of gas and 16 percent of oil to E.U. nations, but with European gas demand growing at 3 percent a year, Russia would have to double its exports in 20 years to maintain its share of the market.
The plan is also expected to involve Moscow supplying electricity to E.U. countries. Analysts have suggested that no concrete plans will come out of the summit, as the partnership is still in its early stages. A Russian spokesman said that: “The project is a very big one and it will be impossible to agree on its essence in a few days.”
Russia’s Gazprom announced on October 19th that it had established a consortium with Gaz de France, Germany’s Ruhrgas and Wintershall and Italy’s Snam to build a $2 billion gas pipeline with a maximum capacity of 60 billion cubic meters of gas per year bypassing Ukraine to transport gas to Europe. The Russian company is eager to boost exports to European customers in exchange for hard currency.