Russia in the European energy sector

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Sources of European natural gas, 2010–2017. Russia (dark brown) was the source of 35% of total EU natural gas consumption in 2017.

The Russian Federation supplies a significant volume of fossil fuels and is the largest exporter of oil and natural gas to the European Union. In 2007, the European Union imported from Russia 185 million tonnes of crude oil, which accounted for 32.6% of total oil import, and 100.7 million tonnes of oil equivalent of natural gas, which accounted 38.7% of total gas import.[1]

In 2017, energy products accounted around 60% of the total EU's import from Russia.[2]

The Urengoy–Pomary–Uzhgorod pipeline was constructed in 1982–1984 with Western financing to provide Soviet gas to the Western European market.[citation needed]

The Russian state-owned company Gazprom exports natural gas to Europe. It also controls a large number of subsidiaries, including various infrastructure assets. According to the study published by the Research Centre for East European Studies, the liberalization of the EU gas market has driven Gazprom's expansion in Europe by increasing its share in the European downstream market. It has established sale subsidiaries in many of its export markets, and has also invested in access to industrial and power generation sectors in Western and Central Europe. In addition, Gazprom has established joint ventures to build natural gas pipelines and storage depots in a number of European countries.[3] Transneft, a Russian state-owned company responsible for the national oil pipelines, is another Russian company supplying energy to Europe.[citation needed]

In September 2012 the European Commission has opened formal proceedings to investigate whether Gazprom is hindering competition in Central and Eastern European gas markets, in breach of EU competition law. In particular, the Commission is looking into Gazprom's usage of ‘no resale’ clauses in supply contracts, alleged prevention of diversification of gas supplies, and imposition of unfair pricing by linking oil and gas prices in long-term contracts.[4] The Russian Federation responded by issuing a blocking legislation, which introduced a default rule prohibiting Russian strategic firms, including Gazprom, to comply with any foreign measures or requests.[5] Compliance is made subject to a prior permission granted by the Russian government.


In the early 1980s there were American efforts, led by the Reagan administration, to convince European countries through which a proposed Soviet gas pipeline was to be built to deny firms responsible for construction the ability to purchase supplies and parts for the pipeline and associated facilities. The pipeline was built despite these protests and the rise of large Russian gas firms such as Gazprom as well as increased Russian fossil fuel production has facilitated a large expansion in the quantity of gas supplied to the European market since the 1990s.

Natural gas deliveries[edit]

Major existing and planned natural gas pipelines supplying Russian gas to Europe

In 2017, 39% of the European Union's natural gas total imports originated from Russia.[2] As of 2009, Russian natural gas was delivered to Europe through 12 pipelines, of which three were direct pipelines (to Finland, Estonia and Latvia), four through Belarus (to Lithuania and Poland) and five through Ukraine (to Slovakia, Romania, Hungary and Poland).[6] In 2011, an additional pipeline, Nord Stream (directly to Germany through the Baltic Sea), opened.[7]

The largest importers of Russian gas in the European Union are Germany and Italy, accounting together for almost half of the EU gas imports from Russia. Other larger Russian gas importers (over 5 billion cubic meter per year) in the European Union are France, Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland, Austria and Slovakia.[8][9] The largest non-EU importers of Russian natural gas are Ukraine, Turkey and Belarus.[8]

The shares of Russian natural gas in the domestic gas consumption in EU countries were in 2013[10]:

  •  Estonia 100%
  •  Finland 100%
  •  Latvia 100%
  •  Lithuania 100%
  •  Slovakia 100%
  •  Bulgaria 97%
  •  Hungary 83%
  •  Slovenia 72%
  •  Greece 66%
  •  Czech Republic 63%
  •  Austria 62%
  •  Poland 57%
  •  Germany 46%
  •  Italy 34%
  •  France 18%
  •  Netherlands 5%
  •  Belgium 1.1%

Petroleum oils deliveries[edit]

According to Eurostat, 30% of EU's petroleum oil import came from Russia in 2017. For Estonia, Poland, Slovakia and Finland, more than 75 % of their imports in petroleum oils originated from Russia.[2]

Disputes and diversification efforts[edit]

At the same time, the variety of national policies and stances of larger exporters versus larger dependents of Russian gas, together with the segmentation of the European gas market, has become a prominent issue in European politics toward Russia, with significant geopolitical implications for economic and political ties between the EU and Russia. These ties have occasionally led to calls for greater European energy diversity, although such efforts are complicated by the fact that many European customers have long term legal contracts for gas deliveries despite the disputes, most of which stretch beyond 2025–2030.[11]

A number of disputes in which Russia was using pipeline shutdowns in what was described as "tool for intimidation and blackmail"[12] caused European Union to significantly increase efforts to diversify its energy sources.[13]

Part of the aim of the Energy Union is to diversify the EU’s gas supplies away from Russia, which has already proved to be an unreliable partner, first in 2006 and then in 2009, and which threatened to become one again at the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine in 2013-2014.

During an anti-trust investigation initiated in 2011 against Gazprom a number of internal company documents were seized that documented a number of "abusive practices" in an attempt to "segment the internal [EU] market along national borders" and impose "unfair pricing".[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Energy Dialogue EU–Russia. The Tenth Progress Report" (PDF). European Commission. November 2009: 4–6. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 October 2010. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  2. ^ a b c "EU imports of energy products - recent developments" (PDF). Eurostat. 4 July 2018. pp. 3–4. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  3. ^ Koszalin, Andreas Heinrich (5 February 2008). "Gazprom's Expansion Strategy in Europe and the Liberalization of EU Energy Markets" (PDF). Russian Analytical Digest. Research Centre for East European Studies (34 Russian Business Expansion). Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 23 February 2008.
  4. ^ European Commission, Antitrust: Commission Opens Proceedings Against Gazprom, IP/12/937
  5. ^ Marek Martyniszyn, Legislation Blocking Antitrust Investigations and the September 2012 Russian Executive Order, 37(1) World Competition 103 (2014)
  6. ^ "Commission staff working document–Accompanying document to the Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning measures to safeguard security of gas supply and repealing Directive 2004/67/EC. Assessment report of directive 2004/67/EC on security of gas supply {COM(2009) 363}" (PDF). European Commission. 16 July 2009: 33, 56, 63–76. Retrieved 30 January 2010.
  7. ^ Juergen Baetz (8 November 2011). "Merkel, Medvedev inaugurate new gas pipeline". Associated Press. Retrieved 15 November 2011.
  8. ^ a b "Country analysis briefs: Russia" (PDF). Energy Information Administration. May 2008: 11. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 June 2010. Retrieved 30 January 2010.
  9. ^ Noël, Pierre (May 2009). "A Market Between Us: Reducing the Political Cost of Europe's Dependence on Russian Gas" (PDF). EPRG Working Paper Series. University of Cambridge Electricity Policy Research Group: 2; 38. EPRG0916. Retrieved 30 January 2010.
  10. ^ Jones, Dave; Dufour, Manon; Gaventa, Jonathan (June 2015). "Europe's Declining Gas Demand: Trends and Facts about European Gas Consumption" (PDF). E3G. p. 9. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  11. ^ Simon Pirani; Jonathan Stern; Katja Yafimava (February 2009). The Russo-Ukrainian gas dispute of January 2009: a comprehensive assessment (PDF). NG 27. Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. p. 59. ISBN 978-1-901795-85-1. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 November 2009. Retrieved 13 October 2009.
  12. ^ "Lithuania suspects Russian oil grab". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved March 17, 2016.
  13. ^ "Europe's alternatives to Russian gas". European Council of Foreign Relations. Retrieved March 17, 2016.
  14. ^ "EU documents lay bare Russian energy abuse". Retrieved 2018-04-16.