The Netherlands' economy minister Jan Brinkhorst has launched a veiled attack on the French and Spanish governments by criticizing those who see market opening as 'more a threat than an opportunity'.

Countries have tried to influence or even stop the sound and healthy process of market integration, Mr Brinkhorst told delegates at the 23rd World Gas Conference in Amsterdam.

Mr Brinkhorst also paid tribute to Russia as a reliable and long-term partner in energy supply. He noted that market opening in Europe needed to include giving Russia clear and open access to the region’s energy industry; Moscow-based state gas monopoly Gazprom has made no secret of its desire to enter the European gas distribution arena.

The Dutch minister went on to highlight the vital role that liquefied natural gas could play in the future energy mix, suggesting that LNG could ultimately make up 50% of the global gas trade.