Security issues in the EU-Russia gas relationship

The EU is the first importer of energy. In addition, energy dependency was about 55% in 2011. The forecasts show that this dependence will reach 70% at the start of 2030. The EU imports 85% of its oil and 65% of its current gas

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Russia, first EU hydrocarbon supplier

The main suppliers of Europe are Russia (mainly for eastern europe), Norway and Algeria. Russia is, in fact, the first natural gas supplier of Europe (40% of imports, accounting for 19% of total consumption in the European Union gas) and the second oil supplier (with 20 % of imports and 16% of total consumption). Moreover, 70% of the gas that is sold to Europe from Russia passes through Ukraine, which is an open conflict area.

The energy dependence of the EU on Russia should grow strongly in the coming years. The European Commission, the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Russian Ministry estimate that, within twenty to thirty years, the gas demand would increase from 40% (today’s rates) to 70% .

But it is mostly gas consumption that  is expected to increase in coming years, particularly because of the exhaustion of the gas field in the North Sea.

25% of the total energy used in Europe comes from natural gas. A third is produced and two thirds are imported.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Russian Ministry believes that gas demand would increase from 40% (today’s rates) to 70% in 20-30 years.

This raises the question of energy security and our dependence on supplier countries.


The uncertainties  of the future

The crisis between Russia and Ukraine and between Russia and Belarus, raised questions about the credibility of Russia as the main energy supplier.

As recalled Sergei Kupriyanov, spokesman for Gazprom, at the height of the Cold War, Moscow has never failed to meet its contractual obligations vis-à-vis its European partners.

Energy dependence is mutual, however, the EU’s main fear is that Russia is unable because of the increase in domestic consumption and lack of investment to meet its commitments.

Moreover, no new gas field has been operating in Russia for over 20 years due to lack of investment.


It is difficult to assess and explore the future of this mutual dependence with Russia in the long term.

In addition, gas projects (like Nabucco, South Stream, Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP)) never reach maturity because of a lack of investment, a lack of commercial agreement and tense diplomatic relations with Turkey and Ukraine).


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