EU reliance on Russian gas hits record high

Advertisement for Gazprom © ruben van eijk
Advertisement for Gazprom © ruben van eijk

A report from gas company Gazprom shows that the EU has increased its imports from Russia, despite plans to diversify.

The state-controlled company announced record deliveries to Europe and Turkey in 2017, amounting to a total of almost 194 billion cubic metres. This represents an 8% rise over its previous record, which was set in 2016. At the member state level, exports to Germany and Austria hit a record high, and exports to France also rose by around 6.7%.

According to Bloomberg, Gazprom plans to ship a further 180 billion cubic metres in 2018, which would be its second-highest figure on record. Even with this slight decrease, European dependence on Russian gas is increasing. Gazprom’s chairman, Alexei Miller, said that an “increasing demand from European countries for Russian gas,” is indicated by the figures.

Gazprom’s exports now represent around one third of the total gas consumption in the EU. The European Commission had previously announced its desire to reduce the EU’s reliance on Russian imports, and has updated regulations to try to diversify its energy sources.

How is the EU reducing its reliance on Russia?

In November of last year, EU lawmakers made urgent efforts to update regulations on gas imports into Europe, in part to attempt to take tighter control over the Nord Stream 2 project. The project would see the construction of a pipeline under the Baltic Sea, which could double the amount of gas Russia is able to export to Germany.

The new measures would expand legislation and ensure the Nord Stream 2 project is regulated according to the EU’s diversification aims. The Financial Times reports that the amendments to the gas directive would ensure that from the end of 2018, all new and existing import pipelines would have to meet four criteria:

  • They must offer non-discriminatory tariffs;
  • At least 10% of capacity must be available to third parties;
  • They must report financial activity transparently; and
  • They must not be owned directly by the gas supplier.

While these changes would not block the Nord Stream 2 project, they would require changes to the current plans.

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