2nd Oct 2023

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.


How do you make embarrassing EU documents 'disappear'?

The EU Commission's new magic formula for avoiding scrutiny is simple. You declare the documents in question to be "short-lived correspondence for a preliminary exchange of views" and thus exempt them from being logged in the official inventory.

Latest News

  1. European Political Community and key media vote This WEEK
  2. Is the ECB sabotaging Europe's Green Deal?
  3. The realists vs idealists Brussels battle on Ukraine's EU accession
  4. EU women promised new dawn under anti-violence pact
  5. Three steps EU can take to halt Azerbaijan's mafia-style bullying
  6. Punish Belarus too for aiding Putin's Ukraine war
  7. Added-value for Russia diamond ban, as G7 and EU prepare sanctions
  8. EU states to agree on asylum crisis bill, say EU officials

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  2. International Medical Devices Regulators Forum (IMDRF)Join regulators, industry & healthcare experts at the 24th IMDRF session, September 25-26, Berlin. Register by 20 Sept to join in person or online.
  3. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  4. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA
  5. International Medical Devices Regulators Forum (IMDRF)Join regulators & industry experts at the 24th IMDRF session- Berlin September 25-26. Register early for discounted hotel rates
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal interest in the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations – here are the speakers for the launch

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us