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EU helps Moldova reduce dependence on Russian gas

Moldova has made a major step in its bid to diversify its sources of energy. It celebrated the inauguration of its first gas pipeline link to European Union supplies, lessening its dependence on Russian deliveries.

EU and Moldovan leaders welcomed the inauguration of the pipeline link on Tuesday, emphasizing its importance for supply diversification.

"This is a historic day - we're celebrating that Moldova will be directly connected to the EU gas market," EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger said in a statement. "This will enhance its energy security and reduce its dependence on the only supplier it has now, notably Russia."

Brussels said it was providing 7 million euros ($9.38 million) out of the total project cost of 28 million euros.

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Moldova itself is not a member of the EU, but is part of the bloc's Energy Community which seeks to extend the EU market to neighboring countries though special legislation and pipeline connections.

With a maximum transportation capacity of about a billion cubic meters per year, the pipeline between Iasi in Romania and Ungheni in Moldova will be able to provide up to one third of Moldova's gas requirements from the end of 2014.

Ironically, the gas which will eventually end up in Moldova may not only come from the EU's own sources, but also from Russia. The EU itself remains heavily dependent on Russian deliveries despite recent diversification efforts, meaning Russian gas is likely to be fed into the new pipeline.

hg/msh (AFP, Reuters)

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