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Brussels workshop on providing reliable gas transit

The rapid growth of international trade in natural gas is highlighting the importance of mechanisms that can ensure the reliability of cross-border energy flows. Such mechanisms are particularly important for gas supply to Europe, where existing and planned pipeline routes often cross multiple national borders on their way from producer to consumer.

Following the dispute between Russia and Ukraine in January 2006, which led to a brief reduction in gas supply to markets further downstream, the Energy Charter has been promoting a strengthened dialogue between partners along the entire energy value chain on the main risks that can affect energy transit flows.

In addition to the regular meetings of the Energy Charter Trade & Transit Group, the Energy Charter Secretariat has organised two specialised expert workshops on the main technical, regulatory and operational requirements for ensuring reliable energy transit.

A primary objective of the first meeting, which took place in Brussels on 19 May 2006, was to develop a clear overview of factors that have the potential to disrupt energy transit flows, including technical and regulatory issues, as well as a lack of clarity in contractual and commercial arrangements.

In addition, the Brussels meeting considered in detail how to facilitate investment in new transit capacity, given a projected increase in energy trade across the Energy Charter constituency in the coming years. The discussion was based on presentations of projects, each of which drew attention to a different set of issues in relation to the provision of new transportation capacity: amongst these were the Balgzand Bacton Line (BBL) between the Netherlands and the United Kingdom; and the capacity expansion of the Trans-Austria Gas pipeline (TAG) which is a major artery for gas supply to Italy.