| STAVANGER, Norway
STAVANGER, Norway Aug 25 Europe needs to
enforce its energy strategy and will have to pay more for gas if
it wants to improve the safety of supply and reduce its reliance
on Russia, the head of the West's energy watchdog said on
The 28 country European Union is supposed to have a single
market for power and gas, but in practice policy is still
patchy, infrastructure poorly developed and not all governments
follow the single policy line.
Europe has to better use its existing infrastructure, such
as liquefied natural gas terminals, even if this pushes up
costs, International Energy Agency executive director Maria van
der Hoeven said.
"It's important that Europe enforces its internal energy
strategy," she told Reuters in an interview. "Countries in
Europe are not independent when it comes to energy because
there's huge interdependence and decisions made in one country
have an influence on other countries."
Russia supplies about 30 percent of Europe's gas, with some
central European countries relying almost entirely on piped
imports, leaving them vulnerable to supply cuts, like in 2009
when a spat between Ukraine and Russia reduced flows.
Supply worries flared up again this year after the West
accused Russia of arming separatist rebels in Ukraine and
imposed sanctions on Moscow, including on its financial and
energy sectors. Russia hit back by stopping imports of many food
products and raised the prospect of limiting car imports, but
gas flows have not been affected.
"The dependency on Russian gas can't be changed overnight,"
she said. "You have to invest in infrastructure as well as your
relationship with other suppliers. You need to use your LNG
capacity which is now used at only a 25 percent rate. This of
course all has a price."
Van der Hoeven said Europe also needed to increase its own
production with Norway, now the continent's second biggest
supplier, and shale exploration, potentially playing key roles.
(Editing by Michael Urquhart)