21st May 2022

Revealed: Big Oil shaped EU's gas-cutting strategy

  • Burning oil infrastructure in Ukraine - the invasion has increased pressure on EU lawmakers to quit Russian gas (Photo: State Emergency Service of Ukraine)
Listen to article

As the invasion of Ukraine has put Europe's effort to wean itself off of Russian gas onto wartime alert, new analysis shows EU senior officials were closely consulting with fossil-fuel giants on how to do it.

Soaring gas prices and growing evidence that Russian troops are committing war crimes have increased pressure on EU lawmakers to replace Russian gas with alternative energy sources.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

In March, the EU Commission put forward its ambitious RePowerEU strategy that aims to cut Russian gas imports by two-thirds before the end of the year and phase out its energy trade with Moscow by 2027.

But a Wednesday (11 May) report by lobby watchdog Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) revealed commission president Ursula von der Leyen and energy commissioner Kadri Simson coordinated their RePowerEU communiqué on 23 March with the CEOs of six oil and gas companies — Shell, BP, Total, ENI, E.ON and Vattenfall.

According to meeting notes, an agreement was reached to set up an industry 'taskforce' that would determine which gas cutting measures were "feasible".

A much more detailed update of RePowerEU, expected to be unveiled on 18 March, was leaked on Tuesday.

The €195bn plan is set to bolster energy efficiency requiring member states to reduce energy consumption by at least 13 percent.

It also increases the share of renewables in the total energy mix from 40 to 45 percent. But the package may still change before adoption.

Other proposed measures will extend the life of existing gas infrastructure and envisions new "hydrogen-ready" pipelines connecting Europe to Africa, which the oil and gas sector would operate — although the size of this package is still unclear.

The meeting notes also show that the fossil-fuel executives advised the commission to seek out new long-term gas contracts to replace existing Russian gas — a move that would "lock the EU into decades more gas [use]", according to CEO.

"The task force should be scrapped," Pascoe Sabido, a researcher at COE, said. "If the commission wants the industry's views, then they must set up a public hearing so we can all hear what they have to say, rather than keeping it behind closed doors."


Outside shocks supercharge the EU Green Deal — for now

Russia's war against Ukraine and, before that, Covid 19 risk derailing the EU's ambitious Green Deal. Instead, as Wester Van Gaal explains, both external shocks have supercharged the project — at least for now.

Russia's war stifles EU pandemic recovery

The impact of Russia's war in Ukraine is being felt throughout the EU and the eurozone. The European Commission has downgraded its economic forecast to 2.7-percent growth this year.

EU countries rush to expand gas import capacity

EU plans to quit Russian gas and replace it, in part, by importing overseas liquified natural gas has lead to a flurry of new gas projects — which threaten to lock in unnecessary gas use for decades.

Commission grilled on RePowerEU €210bn pricetag

EU leaders unveiled a €210bn strategy aiming to cut Russian gas out of the European energy equation before 2027 and by two-thirds before the end of the year — but questions remain on how it is to be financed.

News in Brief

  1. UK to send 'hundreds' of migrants to Rwanda each year
  2. Norwegian knife attacks were domestic dispute
  3. Sweden hits back at Turkey's 'disinformation' in Nato bid
  4. Germany's Schröder gives up one of two Russia jobs
  5. G7 countries pledge €18bn in financial aid for Ukraine
  6. Italian unions strike in protest over military aid for Ukraine
  7. Russia cuts gas supply to Finland
  8. Half of Gazprom's clients have opened rouble accounts

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. What Europe still needs to do to save its bees
  2. Remembering Falcone: How Italy almost became a narco-state
  3. Economic worries and Hungary on the spot Next WEEK
  4. MEPs urge sanctioning the likes of ex-chancellor Schröder
  5. MEPs call for a more forceful EU response to Kremlin gas cut
  6. Catalan leader slams Pegasus use: 'Perhaps I'm still spied on'
  7. More EU teams needed to prosecute Ukraine war crimes
  8. French EU presidency struggling on asylum reforms

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us