(Repeats to fix formatting)
* EU much better placed than in 2009 in event of supply
* New infrastructure spending should add to supply security
* Russia, Kiev ties still tense over gas
By Christopher Le Coq and Barbara Lewis
BRUSSELS, Oct 19 Tension between Ukraine and the
European Union over the jailing of former prime minister Yulia
Tymoshenko will have no impact on the security of supply of
natural gas to Europe via Ukraine's pipelines, EU Energy
Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said.
He also reiterated previous comments that the bloc was much
better prepared for any possible disruption of natural gas from
Russia, the European Union's dominant supplier.
The European Union has bad memories of the impact of a
pricing row between Ukraine and Russia at the start of 2009,
which resulted in major disruption of natural gas supplies to
"No, in no way," Oettinger told reporters on Wednesday when
asked if the situation in Ukraine could have any energy impact.
"We think that the Tymoshenko case must be looked at from
the point of view of the rule of law. It is not connected with
gas supply and security of supply."
Tensions between Ukraine and Russia are still high as Kiev
says a deal brokered in 2009 between Russian Prime Minister
Vladimir Putin and Tymoshenko left it paying an exorbitant price
for Russian gas.
Ukraine wants a new deal, and talks are ongoing.
Russia, meanwhile, has moved to lessen its dependency on
shipping gas through Ukraine with the opening of Nord Stream, an
undersea route to carry gas directly from Russia to Germany.
The first technical gas -- needed to build up pressure --
flowed in September into the Nord Stream and the pipeline is
expected to begin shipments in November.
"Ukraine has only got three or so years of maintaining the
situation whereby 80 percent of Russian gas comes via its
territory," said Andrew Wilson of think-tank the European
Council on Foreign Relations.
"In a little over three years it will be, not entirely, but
substantially bypassed. It could make trouble in that time, but
for once the boot is on the EU's foot."
The European Union has sought to nurture ties with both
Russia and Ukraine through tripartite talks.
But on Tuesday it called off a meeting later this week with
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich over the imprisonment of
Yanukovich had been scheduled to meet European Commission
President Jose Manuel Barroso and the president of the EU
council of member states, Herman Van Rompuy, on Thursday for
talks aimed at advancing the European integration course of his
Technical preparations for an association agreement were
continuing, diplomats said.
If any tension were to boil up into disruption of gas
supply, Oettinger said the bloc was already much better prepared
to cope and that planned investment would improve the situation
"We all learnt our lesson from the turn of the year
2008-2009," Oettinger said.
In particular, he cited an increase in gas storage capacity
and improved interconnections so available supplies can be
distributed more easily.
Oettinger was speaking after the publication of the EU's
latest energy infrastructure package.
The plan seeks to speed through projects of common interest,
such as cross-border pipelines, to help bring in supplies from
sources other than Russia as well as to build infrastructure
that promotes greener supplies and makes connections to bring
about a single European market.
The EU will adopt a first list of projects of common
interest in July 2013, and they will be eligible for some of the
9.1 billion euros ($12.45 billion) of EU money set aside for
The funding is in the draft 2014-2020 EU budget, subject to
lengthy debate, and could leverage further cash from private
sources, national governments and new project bonds.
($1 = 0.731 Euros)
(Additional reporting by Richard Balmforth in Kiev and Justyna
Pawlak and David Brunnstrom in Brussels; editing by Rex
Merrifield and Jane Baird)