There is “no sensible alternative” to Russian gas to meet Europe’s energy needs, German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Friday.
Many people acted as if there plenty of other sources from which Europe could draw its gas, but this is not the case, Gabriel told a energy forum organised by the local daily Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung on Thursday.
The comments were printed in the newspaper’s Friday edition.
Germany’s dependence on Russian gas should be a motivation to seek dialogue on the issue of Ukraine and not let the current crisis with Russia escalate further, Gabriel said.
But “Russia met is contractual obligations even in the darkest times of the Cold War,” the minister noted.
Germany imports around 35 percent of its gas from Russia, while the ratio was even higher in some Eastern European countries.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk recently suggested that German dependence on Russian gas constituted a threat to European sovereignty.
Gabriel argued that Norway, which is often portrayed as a possible alternative source, had only limited export capabilities, while gas from the Netherlands was not of sufficient quality.
His comments appear to contradict those by other German officials, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said on Thursday that the events in Ukraine should lead to “a new way of looking at energy policy” and reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian oil and gas.
But a spokeswoman for Merkel insisted that “there is no divergence” of views between Merkel and Gabriel on the issue.
At a regular government news briefing on Friday, Gabriel’s spokesman Tobias Duenow said that it was clear that Germany would seek to reduce its dependence on Russian gas.