EU calls for Russia and Belarus to be reliable as oil pipeline flows again

The European Union said Thursday it would ask for Russia and Belarus to be "transparent and reliable" in the future as oil resumed flowing through a pipeline after a row between the two nations shut off oil to Europe for three days.

Europe breathed a sigh of relief as supplies returned to normal but was left with lasting doubts about Russia's dependability as an energy supplier.

"We should learn lessons," EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs told reporters. "We ask from both producer countries and transit countries to be really reliable ... We call for transparent and reliable behavior in the future."

"We are paying for these energy resources and we are never late in our payment. We have a right and this should be understood by all countries, that you never disrupt supply," he said.

Piebalgs said all EU nations affected by the dispute are now receiving oil.

Some 1.6 million barrels of oil a day 12 percent of EU oil imports flow down the Druzhba, or Friendship, pipeline that supplies Ukraine, Germany, Poland and other East European nations.

German Economy Minister Joachim Wuermeling warned that Europe was not simply a passive consumer at the mercy of energy suppliers but had the ability to defend itself.

"We have to make it clear we at the EU are not just a large trading partner that we are also donors in many cases in Belarus and Russia and a certain amount of consideration is due to us," he said.

"Conflicts between suppliers and third countries should not affect the European Union."

EU nations had started to take emergency measures, meeting Thursday to discuss oil stocks and agree how they could pool supplies if one part of the region suffered shortages, reports AP.

They said the EU currently has more than 120 days worth of oil in emergency storage and had other supply routes, meaning that neither EU consumers or oil markets were upset by the dispute.

The cutoff of Russian oil, only a year after a Russian dispute with Ukraine disrupted Europe's gas supply for a short while last winter, deepened EU concerns about its dependance on Russia for a quarter of its oil and over two-fifths of its natural gas.

On Wednesday, it proposed a plan to cut energy use, widen the energy sources it draws on and develop more homegrown power such as renewables in an effort to cut its reliance on imported oil and gas and slash greenhouse gas emissions.

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