Belgium may provide Russia gas storage space

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Belgium may provide Russian energy giant Gazprom space to store gas in an underground storage site in Flanders under an agreement signed Wednesday during a visit by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

The two sides agreed to explore the possibility of allowing Gazprom Export to reserve long-term storage capacity at the facility owned by Belgian natural gas firm Fluxys in Loenhout, a town near the Dutch border.

"The usage of underground natural gas storage facilities in Europe is a high priority for Gazprom as a way to ensure security of Russian gas supply," Gazprom Export director general Alexander Medvedev said in a joint statement with Fluxys.

Under the current legal framework, Fluxys must give priority for its storage space to companies that supply public distribution networks, a service that Gazprom does not provide.

The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding to "investigate the economic and legal feasibility of Gazprom Export reserving long-term storage capacity."

The document was signed on the sidelines of an official visit by the Russian president, who had met with top European officials the day before.

© 2010 AFP

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