In 2014, in the context of the partly energy-motivated Ukrainian crisis, European citizens became aware that 63 years after the signing of the ECSC Treaty (which, forming the basis of a coal and steel union, was the starting point for the European project) there was no Energy Union in Europe. The price of Russian gas, to take just one example, was negotiated country by country, with the rich and powerful countries (Germany) getting the most attractive tariffs and the smaller ones (especially the poorer countries of the former Soviet Union that were highly dependent on Russian gas) paying the highest price. Jean Monnet, if you only knew…
Since then, in terms of Russian gas, we’ve heard mostly about the pipelines that are to bypass Ukraine – the former South Stream, now renamed the Turkish Stream (passing through Turkey and Greece) and the Nord Stream (passing through the Baltic Sea and Germany). Both projects are facing ongoing difficulties.
But let’s focus for a minute on the war between the Germans and Americans (the latter being supported by the European Commission) around this issue. The United States is demanding either a halt to the project or that it be rebalanced in favour of their liquid gas through the creation of LNG ports in Europe, all in the name of European energy independence (though this independence is already acknowledged in the supplies of Algerian (460 TWh) and Norwegian (1114 TWh) gas, in particular, vs 1849 TWh of Russian gas).
Figure 1 – Main imports of natural gas from the European Union in 2017. Source: BP Statistical Review 2018.
For their part, the Russians claim that the Ukrainian gas pipeline will not be interrupted and that the bypass lines are only intended to secure a consistent, steady supply to Europe.
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