BRUSSELS -- Norway's foreign minister says the country that provides one-fifth of the natural gas consumed in the European Union could increase supplies to the 28-member bloc in the future.
Foreign Minister Borge Brande spoke on March 21 in Brussels at a discussion on energy security in the EU, which is concerned about its reliance on Russia for energy supplies and is seeking to diversify sources.
“I think [Norway] can be a contributor [to the EU's energy security] and we are already. Russia is responsible for 30 percent of the gas that is consumed in the EU, Norway 20 percent," he said.
Brande added: “We can step up further in the years to come.”
Miguel Arias Canete, the EU commissioner for climate action and energy, said that potential imports from gas-rich Turkmenistan and from Iran, which is now under economic sanctions over its nuclear program, underscore the need for reliable supply routes from the Caspian Sea region.
He said Russia "will have to be partners in the future," but that its contracts must be transparent and it must respect "European laws."
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in December that Russia was scrapping the South Stream pipeline, which was to deliver gas to Europe via the Black Sea but ran afoul of EU rules amid tension over Moscow's interference in Ukraine.
BP Executive Vice President Dev Sanyal, whose company has a shareholding of 19.75 percent in state oil company Rosneft, said Russia "is continuing to be a very important source of energy for Europe.”
Based on reporting by RFERL’s Rikard Jozwiak in Brussels