Saturday, April 22, 2006

Nuclear and Gas

Jeremy Warner looks into the pressures that might make Nuclear Energy a security option for Britain in his business outlook

The issue was raised afresh this week when Gazprom, the state-controlled Russian gas producer, warned in terms worthy of the Cold War that any attempt to limit Gazprom's expansion ambitions in Europe "will not lead to good results".

A spokesman elaborated that if the European Union wanted Gazprom's gas, then it would have to consider Gazprom's interests. In Britain, many took this to be a reference to reports that the Department of Trade and Industry was looking for ways in which it could block any attempt by Gazprom to buy Centrica, the UK's leading gas retailer.

In fact, the spokesman later said, Gazprom's remarks were aimed at other European Union members, whose attempts to block cross border takeovers of key energy companies have been much more overt. Yet whatever Gazprom was referring to, its comments are plainly a quite alarming development. We'll turn off our gas as we did with Ukraine, the Russians seem to be saying, if we don't get our way. Energy supply, it appears, may be a more potent weapon than rockets ever were.

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