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The Observer: A gas deal with Russia? We'll grin and bear it

Like it or not, Europeans cannot live without Russian gas. The continent already buys 34 per cent of its energy from Russia's state-owned Gazprom, and that could rise to 45 per cent over the next decade. Britain, too, is a net importer following the depletion of reserves in the North Sea.
With that in mind, was it so odd for European president Jose Manuel Barroso to suggest an energy pact with the Russians? Observers were shocked because only last month Gazprom cut off supplies to the Ukraine in a row more about politics than economics. So what is Barroso talking about? Can we trust the Russkies in the future?
It's worth a try, because gas will be far more expensive if we have to import it from another of the world's major suppliers: Iran. But the real point here is that Britain will have far more clout negotiating a supply contract with Moscow if any agreement is with the EU as a whole. Why let Gazprom play off one country against another? A unified approach also means that the EU can exert more pressure on the Russians to open up their gas fields to the likes of Shell and BP.
In return, we may have to let the Russians into Britain – a bid for Centrica by Gazprom is already being discussed. But the more we are tied in with each other, the less threatening is the idea of Russian companies operating in the UK.
None of this means we should put all our eggs in the Russian basket. We still need to invest in renewables, coal and nuclear, as well as look for other sources of gas. But Barroso's idea of an energy pact with Moscow deserves serious consideration.

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