Wednesday

20th Sep 2017

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 and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  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.

EU commission changes gear on trade

The EU executive seeks new deals with Australia and New Zealand, while aiming to overhaul the global investment protection system. It also wants to screen foreign investments.

Analysis

Bayer-Monsanto merger could reshape EU food sector

Mega-mergers in the food sector have become commonplace, but EU laws do little to help it keep check on the impact this could have on the environment, public health, and food security.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary set for fresh campaign against public enemy Soros
  2. Iceland's PM leads in polls ahead of October elections
  3. Erdogan demands Iraqi Kurds cancel referendum
  4. Ireland to hold referendum on ownership of water
  5. Report: May to offer €20bn as Brexit bill in Florence speech
  6. Merkel poised to win election despite CDU dip in polls
  7. EU unveils cyber security ideas
  8. EU must do more to cut emissions, auditors say

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEFour Tax Initiatives to Modernise the EU's Tax System
  2. Dialogue PlatformResponsibility in Practice: Gulen & Islamic Thought
  3. Counter BalanceHuman Rights Concerns Over EIB Loan to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline Project
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina Leads the Global Clean Energy Transition
  5. CES - Silicones EuropeFrom Baking Moulds to Oven Mitts, Silicones Are a Key Ingredient in Kitchens
  6. Martens CentreFor a New Europeanism: How to Put the Motto "Unity in Diversity" Into Practice
  7. Access MBAGet Ahead With an MBA Degree. Top MBA Event in Brussels
  8. Idealist QuarterlyIdealist Quarterly Event: Building Fearless Democracies With Gerald Hensel
  9. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Urges Bigger Global Role for Emerging Economies
  10. EU2017EEAre We Socially Insured in the Future of Work?
  11. European Jewish CongressFrench Authorities to Root Out "Societal Antisemitism" After Jewish Family Assaulted
  12. European Federation of Local Energy CompaniesClean Energy for All? On 10.10 Top-Level Speakers Present the Clean Energy Package