By Patrick Brogan
Officials from Germany had to deny that they as a nation, and Europe as a whole, was too dependent on oil and gas originating from Russia, this week. This is in relation to the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines that will run through the Baltic Sea and into Northern Germany, bypassing the Ukraine. Completion of the pipelines is due for as early as 2019.
While Germany denies that it is overly reliant on energy from a country it is generally suspicious towards, if not openly hostile, and Germany was part of a bloc that recently accused Russia of poisoning Sergei and Yulia Skripal and expelled Russian diplomats as a result.
The EU‘s cagey nature towards Russia seems contrary to a friendly relationship, especially when we view where Europe’s energy comes from, or maybe it is because of this. Last year, the state company Gazprom provided 40% of Europe’s gas as reported by FT. Russia’s pipelines spread like a web not just in Europe, but on into the rest of Asia, too.
The current gas lines span across the Ukraine and Slovakia and then splits in two, one line goes on to the Czech Republic and then Germany, the other through Austria and finishes in Italy. The Black Sea line involves Moldova, Romania and Bulgaria with a new proposed line to service Turkey and crossing the Aegean Sea to Greece. Another line crosses Kazakhstan and on into the rest of Central Asia.
Image is taken from platts.com
The Nord Stream Lines increase this dependency beyond the continent. The Nord Stream 1 will wind its way through the Netherlands and conclude in London. So, the UK, the home of the recent chemicals attacks is part of the Russian energy web. Indeed, tension is not just between the UK and Russia. Ukraine is unhappy with being cut out of the loop and has even threatened “full-scale conflict” against Russia if no more gas passes through its territory after a contract between the two nations expires next year.
The creation of PESCO also ratchets up the tension. One of the reasons mooted for its formation was Russia and how some Eastern European nations are afraid of their old colonialists, the same countries now willing to take oil and gas from Russia.
All modern nations need vast amounts of energy, but is Russia really the solution, or should the question not be, are fossil fuels the answer? Surely, with today’s technology, all European nations should be moving towards renewables. The tension with Russia makes no sense when it provides European energy, but even more so when other energy sources are available that are safer for the environment.
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