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Russian takeover bid heightens energy fears

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CONCERN OVER Britain's reliance on Russian gas resurfaced this week amid a further dip in relations between Downing Street and the Kremlin at the G8 Summit in Germany.

Rumours that state-run gas giant Gasprom is to bid for UK gas utility Centrica, leaving the Russian firm controlling much of the gas supply into the UK market, added to the concerns.

Former ICE Energy Board chairman David Anderson told NCE that Britain must now urgently step up development of alternative power sources such as nuclear and renewables.

'Clearly the UK has got to look at other mechanisms such as nuclear, clean coal and liquid nitrogen gas that could open up supplies from other countries such as Nigeria, ' said Anderson.

Gasprom this week denied that it was bidding for Centrica although it has been reported as saying that it would be increasing its customer base in the UK market in the 'near future'.

Russia currently supplies around 40% of the UK's energy and that could rise to 60-70% in the next 10 years.

'Centrica would be a natural for Gasprom and the UK government should not allow it to happen, but it's not obvious how they could stop it given the UK's liberalised marketplace, ' said Anderson.

The Department of Trade & Industry told NCE that any foreign company bidding for a UK energy company 'would be subject to the same robust regulatory controls with the relevant competition authority'.

Meanwhile, the announcement at the G8 Summit of a £30bn package to relieve poverty in the developing world has been criticised, as only around £1.5bn is new funding.

RedR chief executive Martin McCann said: 'We are disappointed they are repeating the same commitments. However, it is positive that Africa will become part of the G8's standing agenda.

hairman of Engineering without Frontiers and ICE vice president, Professor Paul Jowitt, said: 'I don't know if it's new money or old money but where are the project delivery plans?'

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