Since 2015, Nord Stream 2 has been at the centre of all European discussions concerning the EU-Russia relations. But as endless political discussions in Europe are being held on this pipeline project, the pipes of another similar Russian pipeline project – Turk Stream – are already being laid by Gazprom at the bottom of the Black Sea. This piece looks at these developments, analysing their strategic impacts on Europe.
For Europe, thinking about energy security means thinking about Russia. First in January 2006 and then in January 2009, gas pricing dispute between Russia and Ukraine led to the halt of Russian gas supplies to Europe via Ukraine – its primary transit route. This generated economic damages for Europe, notably in South-Eastern European countries heavily dependent on Russian gas for both electricity generation and residential heating.Europe responded to these gas crises by adopting an energy security strategy mainly focused on reducing its dependency on Russian gas supply. The high priority given to Russian gas supplies arose because: (1) gas represents about one quarter of the European energy mix; (2) about one third of this gas is imported from Russia; and (3) in contrast to oil or coal, it is not possible to bring large amounts of gas to where it is needed if the corresponding infrastructure is not in place.
HT: naked capitalismIn the midst of the 2014 Ukraine crisis, concerns about a potential politically motivated disruption of all European gas supplies from Russia lifted again energy issues to the top of the European agenda and led to the creation of the EU Energy Union.While Europe developed its energy security strategy, Russia also developed its own strategy, primarily aimed at maintaining its share in the European gas market in the future. To do this, Russia primarily intends to secure its supplies by diverting all its gas transit to Europe away from Ukraine by 2020.In view of achieving this target, in 2015 Gazprom signed an agreement with major European energy companies to construct Nord Stream 2, a pipeline aimed at diverting away from Ukraine 55 billion cubic metres per year (Bcm/y) of gas transit, by expanding the existing direct link – Nord Stream 1 – between Russia and Germany.Since 2015, Nord Stream 2 has been at the centre of all European discussions concerning the EU-Russia relations in general, and the European energy security in particular. But as endless political discussions in Europe are being held on this pipeline project, the pipes of another similar Russian pipeline project – Turk Stream – are already being laid by Gazprom at the bottom of the Black Sea....MORE