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A pro-Russian rebel aims his rifle at a checkpoint near a Ukrainian airbase in Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine, on May 2, 2014. (MARKO DJURICA/REUTERS)
A pro-Russian rebel aims his rifle at a checkpoint near a Ukrainian airbase in Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine, on May 2, 2014. (MARKO DJURICA/REUTERS)

G7 to discuss weaning Europe off Russian oil amid Ukraine crisis Add to ...

G7 energy ministers will meet in Rome next week to discuss how to counter Russian dominance of European energy markets.

Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford said Friday the Group of Seven ministers are gathering in response to events in Ukraine that serve as a reminder of the connection between energy security and national security.

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“My objective – and I know that of my fellow ministers – is to help advance global energy security in the short, medium and long term at a national, regional, and global level,” he said during a press conference on Parliament Hill.

Russian gas accounts for a third Europe’s needs, 40 per cent of which is shipped through Ukraine. It is also a major supplier of crude oil and petroleum products.

Ukraine depends on Russia for almost all its gas. Earlier this month, Moscow’s OAO Gazprom announced an 80-per-cent increase in the price it will charge the former Soviet republic, which it formerly subsidized.

U.S. and European leaders have discussed reversing a pipeline through Slovakia to bring gas from western Europe into Ukraine.

The Ukraine crisis has focused increased attention on North America’s booming production of natural gas and crude – and the potential to export to Europe to replace Russia supplies. But Canada and the United States currently lack export facilities and are several years away from being able to supply significant volumes of gas to Europe.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has spoken in the past of Canada’s potential to be a global energy superpower that could supply large quantities of gas and oil to world markets, including Europe, if it can complete the pipelines and export terminals needed to reach the east and west coasts.

Mr. Rickford said he will also use opportunity to meet bilaterally with U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to press the case for approval of TransCanada Corp.’s long-stalled Keystone XL pipeline. The State Department has delayed a decision until Nebraska can settle a court case that challenges the state’s approval of the route.

He said the crisis in Ukraine underscores the importance of energy security, and the role that Canada can play in producing growing supplies of oil and gas. Mr. Rickford said he remains confident the pipeline will be approved once the Nebraska issue is settled.

“I’m not getting into the position that it wouldn’t go ahead – it’s a function of timing,” he said.

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