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Russia considering WTO challenge to EU energy regulations

Russia, on the brink of joining the World Trade Organization (WTO), may contest EU energy regulations that would curb the control of gas export monopoly Gazprom over its European pipeline assets, a government source told Reuters on Wednesday.

Russia has registered its dissatisfaction over EU rules, known as the third energy package, that aim to liberalise the European gas market by forbidding suppliers from controlling the transport infrastructure used to supply their gas.

“We believe that this package violates our bilateral agreements with the EU,” the official who spoke on condition of anonymity said to Reuters. “We are now analysing whether WTO instruments can be used to protect our interests. Politically for us the third energy package is a very unpleasant issue,” the source said.

Gazprom, heavily committed to its European customers via long-term contracts linked to oil prices, says huge investments in transport infrastructure fail to have economic sense if it cannot benefit from them as an energy supplier. The country launched the EUR7.3bn (US$10bn) Nord Stream gas pipeline earlier this month

“I have already told members of the EU commission that we are ready to give a standing ovation for the third energy package, but after our delivery points,” Gazprom’s export chief, Alexander Medvedev, said in an interview in September.

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