Thursday

19th Apr 2018

Europe looking at alternatives to Russian gas

  • Merkel turns on Russia's Nord Stream gas pipeline: EU countries's dependency on Russia varies from zero to over 90 percent (Photo: nordstream.com)

EU leaders meeting in Brussels on Thursday and Friday (20-21 March) will look at ways to lower the bloc's dependence on Russian gas, as they prepare economic sanctions against Moscow over Ukraine.

"The European Council is concerned about Europe's high energy dependency rates, especially on gas, and calls for intensifying efforts to reduce them, especially in the most dependent member states," according to the draft summit conclusions seen by EUobserver.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports - including from the US where a shale gas revolution has driven prices down - could be an option, along with improved energy efficiency, better infrastructure, increased gas storage, and a more long-term goal to increase the local production of solar and wind energy.

"The objectives of completing the internal energy market by 2014 and developing interconnections so as to put an end to any isolation of member states from European gas and electricity networks by 2015 remain a priority," the draft conclusions read.

Part of the EU reaction to the Russian invasion of Ukraine is also the halting of a gas pipeline project - South Stream - that would only have increased the dependence on Russian gas in south-eastern EU countries.

"I'm not accelerating our talks regarding pipelines such as South Stream. They will be delayed," EU energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger, told Die Welt newspaper this week.

Dependency on Russian gas imports varies greatly among member states - Bulgaria is over 90 percent reliant on Russian exports, while neighbouring Romania - which still has its own oil and gas reserves, as well as hydro and nuclear plants - imports only 25 percent of its gas from Russia.

Of the big countries, Germany imports around 35 percent of its gas from Russia, while the UK and France are almost zero-reliant on Russian gas because they import LNG and, in France's case, generate most of their energy via nuclear plants.

Poland meanwhile, which imports about 70 percent of its gas from Russia, as well as Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia - the so-called Visegrad Group - have called on the US to lift its legislative hurdles on exporting American shale gas to Europe.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk also brought up this topic when receiving German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Warsaw on Wednesday.

"We discussed about the technical possibilities of importing gas from America, if this could be done in the future. And we concluded that we are on the same side," Tusk said during a joint press conference with Merkel.

He also repeated the long-standing Polish request for EU countries to consult each other before signing gas deals with Russia, a demand Merkel was less convinced about because "it is private companies, not governments who buy gas."

On US gas imports, British foreign secretary William Hague also noted that EU leaders are starting to explore it as an alternative to Russian gas. "This is now beginning to be discussed between European politicians, including ourselves, and Americans," he said in an interview with BBC television last week.

Britain buys only about one percent of its natural gas from Russia and has five LNG terminals.

According to the association of gas infrastructure companies in the EU (GIE), the bloc has reserves for at least a month, were it to be cut off from Russian gas exports that come mostly through pipelines crossing Ukraine.

"Most of the European transmission systems currently can withstand a disruption of Russian gas through Ukraine. The pipeline network is available for diverting gas flows in case of supply problems from Russia from storage and LNG to market," GIE said in a press release earlier this week.

On 10 March, there were 37 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas in stock in the EU and 2.5 bcm worth of gas in LNG imports, it said. The average monthly consumption of gas in EU countries is around 40 bcm.

Doing business with Russia: A German dilemma

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is determined to impose economic sanctions on Russia over Ukraine if diplomacy fails. German firms doing business in Russia are warning about the consequences.

News in Brief

  1. Report: Facebook to carve 1.5bn users out of EU privacy law
  2. Greek court ruling permits migrants to travel to mainland
  3. Commonwealth summit hopes for trade boost after Brexit
  4. Merkel and Macron meet to finetune eurozone reform plans
  5. Turkey snap elections set for 24 June
  6. Post-Brexit UK passports to be printed in France after all
  7. EU Parliament condemns Selmayr appointment
  8. EU trade commissioner: we are not offering US anything

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  2. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  3. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  4. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  8. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Must Work Together to Promote Global Steel Sector
  11. Swedish EnterprisesEU Tax Proposal on Digital Services Causes Concern for Small Exporting Economies
  12. Europea Jewish CongressCondemns the Horrific Murder of Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris

Latest News

  1. Draghi to stay part of secretive 'lobby' group
  2. Bulgaria offers lesson in tackling radical-right populists
  3. Getting secret EU trilogue documents: a case study
  4. Selmayr case scars Parliament and Commission
  5. Beyond macho: Turkish-EU ties
  6. 'Flobert' guns - Europe's latest terror loophole
  7. EU investment bank confirms secrecy of VW fraud report
  8. More commitment to renewables from Council, please

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUAn Open China Will Foster a World-Class Business Environment
  2. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  3. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  4. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  5. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  6. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  7. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  8. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  9. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  10. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  11. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  12. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership