Russia is a model energy supplier - Energy Minister

Russia’s Energy Minister says the country has proved itself to be a model supplier of gas and oil to Europe.

Speaking at the World Energy Forum in Rome, Viktor Khristenko said Russia had gone from being a passive supplier to an active partner in just 15 years.

“Nobody can name a single contract in the energy sector that Russia as a partner has not fulfilled. Our contract obligations are sacred to us,” Khristenko said.

Despite such reassurances, the European Union remains unenthusiastic about the westward expansion of Russian energy companies. The EU Commission has suggested blocking foreign companies like Gazprom from controlling European energy networks.

Head of Rosneft Sergei Bogdanchikov, who's accompanying Khristenko at the meeting, said exporting countries should have access to the retail networks of their partners.

At the same time, he said, importing nations should be able to extract hydrocarbons and help transport them to the final customers.

“The future is in this type of working model and both sides should try to make it happen as soon as possible,” Bodganchikov said.

European energy experts say Russia’s relationship with Europe in the energy sector is far from reciprocal or balanced.

Angelantonio Rosato, an analyst from Rivista Italiana di Geopolitica in Rome, says the problem is that Russia is probably more dependent on Europe than the opposite:

“That’s because Russia… is compelled to sell gas through the pipelines to Europe.” he said.

“In future Europe will need more gas than Russia is able to give, and will develop liquefied natural gas. It will also take gas from other countries,” Rosato said.

Europe is increasingly focusing its attention on alternative energy sources, such as wind farms and biofuel, to lower its dependence on Russia as a supplier.

But with global energy demand predicted to more than double by 2050, Russia’s role in supplying Europe's energy needs is likely to remain a major one.