EU Eyes the Arctic as It Seeks to Prop Up Its Energy Security

BRUSSELS (Dow Jones Newswires), November 20, 2008

After looking for possible oil and gas supplies in Central Asia and Africa to increase its energy security, the European Union is widening its interest towards the Arctic.

"The E.U. has to state its position concerning a unique region of strategic importance which is located in its immediate vicinity," the European Commission said in a statement Thursday.

The race to establish rights over the Arctic resources has recently heated up. Russia has increased its presence in the region and a Russian submarine planted the country's flag on the seabed under the North Pole last year.

Up to 25% of undiscovered oil and gas resources could be located in the Arctic region, External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said during a press conference Thursday. She was presenting a document on the E.U. priorities in the region, including exploitation of resources in line with environment protection, and improving multilateral governance.

The E.U. is seeking to differentiate and enlarge its suppliers of fossil fuels and the commission considers imports from Central Asia a priority in its energy strategy. It has also said it is ready to support an African project to bring sub-Saharan gas to the Mediterranean and possibly into Europe.

"The Arctic with its enormous oil and gas resources can play a central role in energy security for Europe," Jochen Homann, undersecretary of the German Economics Ministry, said in a statement.

Copyright (c) 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.