13 November 2008 – The European Commission has unveiled plans to diversify the EU’s energy imports and reduce dependence on Russia, the main gas supplier.
The EU will remain dependent on imported fossil fuels for many years to come, the Strategic Energy Review says. Some member states “are overwhelmingly dependent on one single supplier,” the document says, without naming Russia.
It urges the EU to develop energy infrastructure in the Baltic states and the Mediterranean region. It also wants the EU to build a North Sea offshore grid, to link up national electricity grids in north-western Europe and plug in the numerous planned offshore wind farms.
“It should become, together with the Mediterranean Ring and the Baltic Interconnection project, one of the building blocks of a future European supergrid,” the strategy paper says.
A Mediterranean energy ring – interconnecting electricity and gas networks – “is essential to develop the region’s vast solar and wind energy potential,” it says.
Another priority is to get firm commitments from gas suppliers in the Middle East and Central Asia, including their involvement in gas pipeline construction.
“A southern gas corridor must be developed for the supply of gas from Caspian and Middle Eastern sources, which could potentially supply a significant part of the EU’s future needs,” the commission says.
The proposals will be considered by EU governments and the European Parliament, who have to sign off specific EU projects.
The recent volatility in oil and gas prices underlines the need for more transparency in member states’ data on energy stocks, the commission says.
It wants data on commercial oil stocks in the EU to be published weekly.
Data on member states’ strategic oil stocks is already published by the EU.
The commission does not call for obligatory strategic gas stocks, saying they are at least five times more expensive than oil stocks.