Eurasian Energy Security: Recent Trends in the European Game of Natural Gas Projects
Abstract The paper discusses the development prospects of the major gas pipeline projects planned to link Europe to the Caspian region (Nabucco and South Stream), on the one hand, and to northwestern Siberia and the Barents Sea (Nord Stream), on the other hand. The analysis indicates the following: the construction work of Nord Stream‟s first phase will likely start in the late spring of 2010, though the project has no developed supply field for its second phase; Nabucco‟s fate is still uncertain, in spite of some recent political progress; and the South Stream project is a mere “paper tiger,” working mainly to undermine Nabucco. Besides, it is argued that the opening of the Central Asia-China pipeline, which gives Turkmenistan a major export outlet other than Russia, is a true “game changer,” and that along with the development of new LNG infrastructure, the promising results of “unconventional gas” developments in Hungary show that Europe‟s security of supply is not exhausted by the pipelines game. Keywords: Energy security, Southern Corridor, Nabucco, South Stream, Nord Stream, White Stream
1. Introduction: The EU-Russia energy interdependence
The EU currently imports more than 40% of its natural gas from Russia, a figure which is expected to rise to 60% by 2030. The level of dependence is
considerably higher for a number of European states which rely on Russian imports for virtually their entire gas needs.1 The situation did become a public concern during the Russo-Ukrainian “gas war” of January 2009, which left parts of South-East Europe in the cold for two weeks in the middle of the winter. Gazprom, the monopolist exporter owned 51% by the Russian state, which produces around 19.4% of the world’s total output of natural gas, sells two thirds of its gas to the EU countries. In 2006, for instance, Gazprom’s gas sales to Europe... [continues]
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