Russia is consolidating its grip on oil and gas-the economic
lifeblood of Europe. Moscow is pursuing a comprehensive strategy
that could increase Europe's political and economic dependence on
Russian energy. Such dependence could negatively affect
transatlantic relations, common values, goals, strategic
objectives, and security policies. Without a policy dialogue and
coordination between Washington and European capitals, Europe's
strategic drift away from the United States will continue
In the meantime, European energy security policy is in disarray.
Despite British Prime Minister Tony Blair's call for a common
European energy policy in an October 2005 speech to the European
Parliament, European countries have rushed to
secure their own energy interests in lieu of a more coordinated
approach. In the spring and summer of 2007, Austria, Italy, and
Hungary negotiated separate deals with the Russian energy giant
Gazprom. These deals may undermine the EU's Nabucco project, which
aims to bring Caspian gas to the heart of Europe via Bulgaria,
Romania, Hungary, and into Austria.
On paper, the European Union is invested in energy security. At
the 2007 spring summit in Brussels, EU members outlined an
action plan on energy security for 2007-2009. First, to ensure
security of supply, the EU needs to "diversif[y]…energy
sources and transport routes, and better systems for
responding to crises." Second, the EU should promote
international energy policy by "negotiating a new treaty
framework for energy co-operation with Russia, and improving
relations with energy-rich countries in Central Asia and North
Africa." The EU also proclaims that it wants to improve its
ability to manage supply crises, to expand the energy grid
connecting European countries, and to improve the functioning of
the internal energy market.
In practice, some European countries depend heavily on energy
imports and are highly vulnerable to global energy shocks. The EU
is the world's largest importer of oil and gas. It imports 82
percent of its oil and 57 percent of its gas. Imports are
projected to rise to 93 percent of its oil and 84 percent of
its gas over the next 25 years.
With Russia consolidating its control of European and
Central Asian energy, and in view of Europe's dependence on the
Persian Gulf, Europe desperately needs to cooperate on energy
security. Europe and the U.S. should work together to mitigate
the adverse effects of Europe's strategic dependence on
Russia. In particular, the U.S. should:
- Work with key European governments to address
vulnerabilities that result from overreliance on a single
oligopolistic energy supplier-Russia. They should encourage
development of EU-wide natural gas reserves, increase the
consumption of liquefied natural gas, and expand the nuclear, coal,
and renewable energy sectors.
- Support diversification of energy transportation routes
in Eurasia, especially oil and gas pipelines that link Central
Asian producers to European markets, bypassing Russia.
- Continue efforts to bring Russia into full
compliance with the Energy Charter to increase
predictability and transparency in energy markets.
Energy Dependence on Russia
Europe is hungry for energy. In 2006, the 25 EU members consumed
1,722.8 million tons of oil equivalent (mtoe). Nearly two-thirds
came from hydrocarbons: 706.3 million tons of oil (14.9 million
barrels per day) and 420.6 mtoe (476.4 billion cubic meters) of
natural gas. The remaining 34.6 percent came from coal,
nuclear, and renewable sources.
EU energy security already depends heavily on Russia. The EU
imports almost half of its natural gas and 30 percent of its oil
from Russia. Eastern Europe consumes even higher
percentages of Russian gas. Table 1 shows the major European
recipients of Russian natural gas exports, ranked from most
dependent to least dependent.
In 2006, oil imports from Russia and Central Asia reached 5.9
million barrels per day (290.8 million tons). Russia also
supplied some 132 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas.
Rising demand indicates that Europe's dependence on Russian energy
will continue to grow.
Russia has the largest proven natural gas reserves (1,688
trillion cubic feet) and the seventh-largest proven oil reserves
(60.0 billion to 74.4 billion barrels) in the world,
and large areas of eastern Siberia and the Arctic are still
unexplored. Total Russian net oil exports reached 7 million barrels
per day in 2006. Chart 1 and Chart 2 show the current
and projected increased levels of Russian oil and gas exports.
Russian Energy Strategy and
Russia's energy strategy seeks to make Europe increasingly
dependent on Russian oil and gas. The Kremlin has advanced this
strategy through a series of policies. It creates dependency by
locking in demand with energy importers, consolidating the supply
of oil and gas by signing long-term contracts with Central Asian
energy producers, and securing control of strategic energy
infrastructure in Europe and Eurasia. This includes extending the
Gazprom monopoly and attempting to create an OPEC-style gas
cartel. At the August 2007 summit of the
Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the presidents of Kazakhstan and
Russia called for establishment of an "Asian energy club" to expand
energy ties among the member states, including creation of a
unified energy infrastructure to serve as the basis for a common
Locking in Demand. Russia is attempting to lock in demand
by signing long-term bilateral and multilateral contracts with
European countries. Moscow prefers to deal with the EU member
states separately rather than as a group so that Russia can
price-discriminate among its customers, charging each country
as close to its full paying potential as possible.
Gazprom has negotiated long-term supply contracts with most
Western European countries, including France, Germany, Italy, and
Austria. Russia has contracted for portions of Central and
Eastern European demand that are much greater than that of
Western Europe. Newer EU members, such as Slovakia, Bulgaria, and
the Czech Republic, are almost entirely dependent on Russian
More recently, during President Vladimir Putin's May 2007 visit
to Austria, the Austrian government agreed to a major deal with
Gazprom. OMV, a partially state-owned Austrian energy company,
signed a long-term gas import deal with Gazprom. Under the
agreement, Gazprom subsidiaries GWH and CentrexEurope Energy and
Gas will begin to deliver gas directly to Austrian consumers in
2008. Current imports from Russia account for approximately 70
percent of Austrian gas consumption. Gazprom is scheduled
to deliver 6.8 bcm of gas in 2007 and 9 bcm in 2009. This agreement would practically
integrate Austria's gas transit and storage networks (existing and
planned) into Gazprom's expanding network of dependencies.
Moreover, Gazprom intends to use Austria as a transit corridor
to capture other EU markets. It is planning to develop a Central
European Gas Hub and Gas transit Management Center, the largest in
continental Europe, at Baumgarten near Vienna. In July
2007, OMV announced its intent to take over MOL, a private
Hungarian energy company, which will further strengthen Russia's
grip on European energy infrastructure.
Locking in Supply. Russia's second tactic is to lock in
supply by consolidating its control of strategic energy
infrastructure, most notably pipelines, throughout Europe and
Eurasia. Russia is using outright ownership and joint ventures
to control supply, sale, and distribution of natural gas and is
buying up major energy infrastructure, such as pipelines,
refineries, electric grids, and ports.
In 2002, Russian state-owned Transneft attempted to gain control
of the Mazeikiu Nafta refinery in Lithuania and the Ventspils
oil-export terminal in Latvia. When the two governments
refused to sell their stakes to Transneft, Moscow sharply cut oil
deliveries, forcing Ventspils to obtain oil by rail. Russian pursuit of the Lithuanian
refinery was cut short when the Polish company PKN Orlen bought the
refinery in 2006, but Moscow is still pursuing the
Latvian terminal. As recently as May 2007, a top Ventspils
executive said that "the company was prepared to take on a
strategic Russian investor."
As of 2004, Gazprom had invested $2.6 billion in 23 major
joint ventures, including buying a 50 percent stake in
Slovrusgaz in Slovakia, 48 percent of Europol Gaz inPoland, and
30.6 percent of Eesti Gaas in Estonia. 
Russia is also buying up strategic infrastructure companies in
Georgia, Hungary, and Ukraine. In 1998, Gazprom
took over shares of Topenergy, a Bulgarian company dealing with
commercial distribution of gas.
Russia is also aggressively consolidating its control of
European pipelines. The Kremlin has actively opposed
Western-controlled pipeline projects directly linking Eurasian
energy-producing countries to European markets, such as the
Baku- Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the Baku-Erzurum gas
Earlier in 2003, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and
President Putin agreed to build a Nord Stream pipeline to supply
Germany with Russian gas. The pipeline will cross the Baltic Sea
and bypass Ukraine, Belarus, and Poland. (See Map 1.) It will have
an annual capacity of 27.5 bcm of gas and is expected to become
operational by 2010. Gazprom owns 51 percent of the North
European Gas Pipeline Company, which was created to build the
pipeline's underwater section. This pipeline will
further tie European energy security to the Kremlin.
In February 2007, Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych
abandoned a project to extend the Odessa-Brody pipeline intoPoland
to pump Caspian oil outside of Russian control. The new plan would
pump Russian oil into the Druzhba pipeline's Slovak section,
Transpetrol, which will soon be under Russian control. Loss of
Transpetrol will make Slovakia and Hungary fully dependent on
The Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline will be the first
Russian-controlled pipeline on EU territory. In March
2007, Russia signed an agreement with Bulgaria and Greece to
construct the oil pipeline bypassing the Turkish-controlled
Bosporus Strait. It will have a capacity of 35 million metric tons
of oil per year. Russian companies Transneft, Gazpromneft, and
Rosneft will control 51 percent of the pipeline. Bulgaria and
Greece will control the rest. This pipeline will
allow Russia to bypass the Bosporus chokepoint while
maintaining control of oil transit. Russia is planning to
build the second Bosporus bypass from a Turkish port on the Black
Sea (such as Samsun or Trabzon) to the Mediterranean.
As of March 2007, Hungary preferred to cooperate with
Gazprom to extend the existing Russian- Turkish Blue Stream gas
pipeline into EU territory through Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, and
Austria. However, a more recent
Russian-Italian South Stream pipeline agreement would partly
replace the proposed Blue Stream extension.
At a May 2007 summit in the Turkmen port city of Turkmenbashi,
Russia, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan agreed to build the
Prikaspiiski gas pipeline to carry gas from Turkmenistan to Russia
via Kazakhstan. The deal thwarts U.S. and EU plans
for a trans-Caspian pipeline that would have delivered Turkmen gas
across the Caspian Sea via Turkey and would have enabled Central
Asian exporters to circumvent Russian-controlled routes.
Derailing Competition. On June 23, 2007, Gazprom and
Italy's ENI signed a memorandum of understanding to build the South
Stream gas pipeline from Russia to Italy. This pipeline will
have a capacity of 30 bcm per year and will run across the Black
Sea from Russia to Bulgaria, bypassing both Ukraine and Turkey.
From Bulgaria, the pipeline could run either southwest via Greece
and the Adriatic Sea to southern Italy or northwest via
Romania, Hungary or Austria, and Slovenia to northern Italy.
Through ENI, Gazprom has gained access to Italian distribution
systems and consumers.
The South Stream pipeline will increase EU dependence on Russian
energy and compete directly with the Nabucco gas pipeline project
backed by the EU and U.S. The Nabucco pipeline was expected to
transport gas from the Caspian basin to Europe via Turkey,
Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, and Austria, benefiting all 27 EU
member countries. However, its chances are shrinking
as Gazprom is building up influence in Europe and reaching
agreements on alternative routes. South Stream also rivals the
proposed extension of the EU-backed Baku-Erzurum gas pipeline via
Turkey, either connecting to the Nabucco pipeline or
continuing on to Greece and Italy.
In mid-July 2007, in response to South Stream's bypass of
Turkey, Ankara reached an agreement with Tehran to receive some 30
bcm per year of Iranian and Turkmen natural gas (via Iran) for
domestic use or for transport further west to Europe. The deal
envisages constructing two separate gas pipelines across
Turkey, as well as developing three gas fields in Iran's giant
South Pars field, and a reported investment of $3.5 billion. On July 26, Italy, Greece, and
Turkey signed a deal to import Caspian and Middle Eastern gas to
Italy via Greece and Turkey. The project will include an
enlarged Turkish gas network; a Turkey-Greece link (the IGT
pipeline with a capacity of 11.5 bcm per year, to become
operational in 2007); and a Greece-Italy link (the IGI pipeline
with a capacity of 8 bcm per year, to be completed by the end of
The U.S. is concerned about increased energy links between
Turkey and Iran at a time when Washington is seeking to isolate
Iran internationally because of its nuclear program and efforts to
destabilize Iraq. The U.S. Congress is considering an
amendment (H.R. 957) to the Iran sanctions Act of 1996 to expand
and clarify the entities subject to sanctions. According
to the bill, sanctions could be imposed on foreign companies that
invest more than $20 million in Iran's oil and gas sector. This
amendment would pit U.S. foreign policy objectives against Europe's
energy needs and put Iran in competition with Russian energy
exports to Europe. However, increased dependence on Iranian energy
brings even greater economic and geopolitical vulnerabilities
and could be detrimental to Europe's, including Turkey's,
External Consolidation. The Kremlin is also
consolidating its control of oil and gas supplies
throughout Eurasia, particularly by signing long-term
exploration and supply agreements with Turkmenistan,
Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan to preempt independent export
arrangements with the West. These agreements defeat the EU's major
goals of avoiding strategic dependence and diversifying supply.
Turkmenistan is a good example of this policy. A 2003 agreement
set the price for 2003-2006 gas deliveries from Turkmenistan to
Russia at $44 per 1,000 cubic meters. An October 2006
agreement commits all current Turkmen gas production to Russia and
raises the price to $100 per 1,000 cubic meters, ensuring Russian
control over regional energy flow.
Uzbekistan remains an important source of gas for Russia. In
January 2007, a Gazprom subsidiary started exploring and developing
several gas deposits in northwestern Uzbekistan. Russia's
agreement with Uzbekistan gives the subsidiary a five-year
exploration license and the exclusive right to export the gas. President Putin and Uzbek President
Islam Karimov have signed an agreement awarding exploration and
development rights to Gazprom for 35 years.
Internal Consolidation. Moscow is acting to consolidate
Russia's oil and gas sector in the hands of government-controlled
entities. The Kremlin is also pushing major international energy
corporations out of the Russian energy sector. Russian
Minister of Natural Resources Yuri Trutnev announced in
February 2005 that Moscow intends to keep Western firms from
bidding on mining and drilling licenses for major natural
The Kremlin amalgamated the Yukos oil company into its
state-owned flagship after bankrupting the company with inflated
tax bills in 2003. In 2005, Yukos chairman Mikhail Khodorkovsky was
sentenced to nine years after a 19-month pretrial detention and
conviction on six charges, including personal and corporate tax
evasion and fraud.
Royal Dutch Shell has been pushed out of a major Russian energy
project. In 2006, under pressure from the Kremlin for alleged
environmental breaches, Shell announced the sale of its majority
stake in Sakhalin-2 oil and gas fields off Sakhalin Island to
The last major Russian independent oil company, LUKoil, is
gradually coming under the Kremlin's control. On March 6,
2007, LUKoil chairman Vagit Alekperov announced a joint venture
between LUKoil and Gazpromneft, a Gazprom subsidiary, to develop
future oil projects, with Gazpromneft owning 51 percent of the
Most recently, BP was evicted from the lucrative Kovytka gas
field in eastern Siberia. TNK-BP joint venture was unable to meet
the Kremlin's production quotas because Gazprom refused to develop
any export pipelines. After officials threatened to cancel the
license and the courts refused to intervene, TNK-BP sold its 62.9
percent stake in Kovytka to Gazprom at a fraction of its market
Domestic consolidation of Russia's oil and gas industry under
the Kremlin's direct ownership or control increases Moscow's
ability to use energy as a foreign policy tool. These major
takeovers and evictions further limit the opportunities for
foreign investment in and technology transfer to the Russian
energy sector. They signal the return of statist economic policies
and a major departure from market liberalization.
A Gas OPEC. Most important, Russia is stealthily and
steadily developing a cartel to control the price and output of
natural gas-a gas OPEC. This cartel will include the world's major
gas producers: Argentina, Bolivia, Venezuela, Iran, and Qatar.
During his February 2007 visit to Qatar, President Putin
called the gas OPEC "an interesting idea." In Doha,
Russia initiated the creation of a high-level group to "research"
gas pricing and develop methodologies using gas pricing models. An
unnamed "high ranking member of the Russian delegation" told RIA
Novosti that "as the gas market undergoes globalization, certainly
such an organization [a gas cartel] will appear and is
For Europe, dependence on such a cartel would be worse than
dependence on OPEC, because Russia has direct national
interests with regard to Europe: preventing NATO expansion and
deployment of anti-ballistic missile defenses, fostering
division between Europe and the United States, and regaining more
comprehensive control of the post-Soviet space.
Trends in European Energy Security
In evaluating what this Russian energy strategy means for
Europe, there are three important considerations.
First, European energy consumption and import dependency
are rising. In 2030, the EU is expected to consume 15 percent more
energy than it consumed in 2000, with consumption stabilizing
after 2020. Europe will generally meet its
increased energy needs with natural gas and renewables. Demand for
natural gas is projected to grow considerably through 2030,
increasing to 140 mtoe per year over 2000 levels. Oil will remain
the most important fuel, but with minimal projected growth in
consumption. After a slight decrease, solid fuels are projected to
return almost to the current level by 2030 due to high oil and gas
prices and the nuclear phaseout in some EU member states. (See Chart 3.)
European energy production is declining sharply, particularly in
hydrocarbons, solid fuels, and nuclear energy. Between 2000 and
2030, the production of European oil, gas, and solid fuels is
expected to decline by 73 percent, 59 percent, and 41 percent,
respectively, but production of renewables should more than double.
Altogether, European production in 2030 will be 25 percent
below 2000 levels.
By 2030, because of growing energy demand and declining domestic
production, Europe will rely on imports for two-thirds of its
energy needs. Dependence on imported oil will remain extremely
high, reaching 94 percent in 2030. Dependence on imported gas will
rise from about 50 percent today to 84 percent in 2030, and imports
of solid fuels are projected to reach 59 percent in 2030.
Second, European energy supply routes remain
concentrated. Before 1999, about 95 percent of Russian natural gas
exports outside of the former Soviet republics transited Ukrainian
territory. Since then, Russia has initiated a
number of projects to diversify gas transmission routes. As of
2006, however, 80 percent of Russia's gas exports to Europe still
passed through Ukraine.
Third, European leaders are partly responsible for
growing gas demand. Europe, led by Germany and the United Kingdom,
has made a conscious choice to rely on gas as its main new source
of energy at a time when domestic supplies are declining. Europe
has encouraged the construction of gas-fired plants, feeding the
demand for more gas.
Implications for European Energy
These developments have dire implications for European energy
First, Europe should expect higher prices in the coming
decades, especially because its supply is becoming concentrated in
Russian hands. Moscow has already demonstrated its willingness to
raise oil and gas prices and to use energy as a foreign policy
tool, as recent incidents in the Baltic States, Ukraine,
Azerbaijan, Belarus, and Georgia have clearly shown.
Second, Europe should expect increasing disruptions
of its energy supply. The long and intense cold wave in 2006
increased Russian demand for gas and strained Gazprom's delivery
capability. Another cold wave could knock
refineries and pipelines off-line. Such disruptions would impose
economic costs and could cost lives.
In the future, because of insufficient production, Russia may be
unable to satisfy Europe's growing demand for gas. Output from
Gazprom's three giant fields in West Siberia, which account for
three-quarters of its production, is declining by 6 percent to 7
percent per year, and the output from a gas field brought on-line
in 2001 has already peaked. Gazprom has decided
to develop a field on the Yamal peninsula, but it will take years
for that field to start producing.
Gazprom has been reluctant to invest in new fields. Many hopes
are connected to exploration of the Shtokman gas field, which is
over 550 kilometers offshore in the Barents Sea and under 300
meters of water. After many delays, Gazprom
reconsidered its decision to "go it alone" and on July 13, 2007,
signed a framework agreement with France's Total for the first
phase of Shtokman development. However, under the agreement,
Gazprom retains full ownership rights to the gas through its
Gazprom's choice of a partner was politically motivated,
and it took a phone conversation between French President Nicolas
Sarkozy and Russian President Putin to clinch the deal. Total
is cash rich but has no experience working in Arctic conditions. The chances that this joint venture
will succeed are unclear. In late October 2007, recognizing that it
cannot launch Shtokman even with Total, Gazprom sold another 24
percent of the project to StatoilHydro, a Norwegian
state-controlled company, which reportedly will pay $800 million
for its stake.
Meanwhile, Russia's own demand for gas is growing by over 2
percent per year. Comparing Russia's uncertain supply with Europe's
growing demand, a senior European Commission official estimated
that the EU's annual energy needs will increase by 200 million
metric tons of gas by 2020, while Russia envisions expanding its
gas exports by just 50 million metric tons. In this
scenario, even Russia may be unable to meet European demand.
Policy Implications for the United
From the American perspective, growing European dependence
on energy from and infrastructure owned by Russia is a negative
geopolitical trend. The Kremlin has demonstrated its readiness to
use energy as a political tool. Russia's assertive Cold War-like
posture is a growing concern for Washington.
It is in the U.S. strategic interest to mitigate Europe's
dependence on Russian energy. The Kremlin will likely use
Europe's dependence to promote its largely anti-American foreign
policy agenda. This would significantly limit the maneuvering space
available to America's European allies, forcing them to choose
between an affordable and stable energy supply and siding with the
U.S. on some key issues.
In general, greater stability, security, and rule of law in
energy-exporting states would ensure that oil and gas remain
readily available, ample, affordable, and safe. To achieve these
goals, the U.S. government should:
- Work with key European governments to address
vulnerabilities that result from overreliance on Russia.
Only a concerted response by European nations can result in the
formulation and implemention of an effective and realistic
policy on energy security vis-à-vis Russia. For
example, the European Commission's Gas Coordination Group could
facilitate intergovernmental coordination in natural gas. The
- Support the development of European joint and national
natural gas reserves to increase preparedness to weather short-term
and medium-term interruptions of the gas supply;
- Encourage European leaders to consider increasing use of
liquefied natural gas consumption, which is a more flexible
delivery system in terms of geography and infrastructure;
- Encourage Europe to increase its use of nuclear, coal,
and renewable energy; and
- Work with European governments to apply anti-monopoly
legislation to Russian government-owned companies if Moscow
continues to deny upstream access to Western companies.
- Support diversification of energy transportation routes
in Eurasia, specifically the construction of oil and gas
pipelines linking Kazakhstan and/or Turkmenistan to Europe across
the Caspian Sea; pipelines connecting the Baku-Tbilisi- Ceyhan
oil pipeline and the Baku-Erzerum gas pipeline; and a gas pipeline
to link Azerbaijan and Central Asian producers to Southern
European markets via the proposed Nabucco pipeline. The
U.S. should work with European countries and Turkey to prevent
increased European dependence on Russian and Iranian gas
through the South Stream gas pipeline project.
- Continue efforts to bring Russia into full compliance
with the Energy Charter. Russia has signed the charter but has
not ratified it. Ratification and compliance would increase
Moscow's predictability and transparency in energy markets and
attract foreign investments. The U.S. and Europe should discourage
Russia from using politically motivated pricing schemes and
Many European countries depend heavily on energy imports and are
highly vulnerable to global energy shocks. If current trends
prevail, the Kremlin could translate its energy monopoly into
untenable foreign and security policy influence in Europe to the
detriment of European-American relations.
In particular, Russia is seeking recognition of its predominant
role in the post-Soviet space and Eastern Europe, as the
latest crisis around missile defense deployment inPoland and
Czech Republic has demonstrated. This will affect the geopolitical
issues important to the U.S., such as NATO expansion to
Ukraine and Georgia, ballistic missile defense, Kosovo, and
U.S. and European influence in the post-Soviet space.
At a minimum, the U.S. and Europe should work to support new
transit lines that bypass Russia, and European countries should
cooperate strategically to ensure their longer-term energy
security. It is essential that the U.S. and its European
allies combine their efforts in finding and implementing innovative
ways to reduce energy dependence on Russia.
Ariel Cohen, Ph.D.,
is Senior Research Fellow in Russian and Eurasian Studies and
International Energy Security in the Douglas and Sarah Allison
Center for Foreign Policy Studies, a division of the Kathryn and
Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The
Heritage Foundation. Olena Krychevska, a Heritage Foundation
intern, contributed to the production of this paper.
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Energy," pp. 20 and 30.
 Ibid., pp. 6 and 22, and
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