News / Economy

Europe Looks to US, Qatar Gas to Reduce Reliance on Russia

Europe Looks to US, Qatar Gas to Reduce Reliance on Russiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
March 21, 2014 1:13 AM
As Russia and the West enact tit-for-tat sanctions over Moscow's annexation of Crimea, European leaders meeting in Brussels are discussing ways to reduce the continent's dependence on Russian gas imports. Europe buys around 30 percent of its gas from Russia, and many EU leaders fear that trade gives Moscow too much leverage. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Henry Ridgwell
As Russia and the West enact tit-for-tat sanctions over Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, European leaders meeting in Brussels are discussing ways to reduce the continent’s dependence on Russian gas imports.  Europe buys around 30 percent of its gas from Russia, and many EU leaders fear that trade gives Moscow too much leverage.  

Engineers operate a shale gas facility in Pennsylvania - one of dozens of hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’ sites across the United States that have made it the world’s top natural gas producer.

Europe hopes this could be the long-term answer to countering its dependence on Russian gas.

European leaders want the U.S. to start shipping shale gas across the Atlantic as Liquefied Natural Gas or LNG.

At talks in Brussels on the proposed EU-U.S. free trade deal last week, EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht said energy was high on the agenda.

He says Europe is too dependent on foreign countries for its energy needs, especially from Russia, and there is no easy solution.  But he says he will negotiate with the United States to import shale gas.

Analysts point to many obstacles. Transport costs mean the price of LNG is higher than Russian gas.

U.S. opponents of the idea say the cheap shale gas should not be exported because it gives American industry a competitive advantage.

Still, energy diversification is key to changing Europe’s geopolitical relationship with Russia, says Professor Alan Riley of City University London.

“Completing the single market in gas, and bringing gas from Qatar as LNG, potentially U.S. LNG over the next few years making its way across Europe, switching to coal," he said. "There’s a lot of use of coal now, U.S. coal, which has been displaced in the U.S. because of shale gas, pouring into Europe. There are lots of options."

Russia’s actions in Ukraine have taken Europe by surprise - and will likely intensify efforts to look elsewhere for gas, says Ian Bond of policy group the Center for European Reform.

“Also to look at other sources like Qatar and Algeria, so sources of Liquefied Natural Gas.  And maybe even in the slightly longer term to persuade the Germans to turn their nuclear power stations back on, which would sharply reduce the demand for Russian gas," he said.

In June last year Greece signed a deal to bring a pipeline from Azerbaijan’s gas fields into the European Union - providing a direct alternative to Russian imports. But the so-called Trans Adriatic Pipeline or TAP won’t come online until 2019.

The range of alternatives give Europe leverage, says Ian Bond.

“Russia depends very heavily on the revenues from the gas that it sells to Europe.  At least half of the national state budget comes from sales of hydrocarbons to Europe," he said.  "And although in the winter it would be true that Europe would freeze before Gazprom would go bankrupt, in the summer Europe has more levers."

But many analysts caution that price remains the deciding factor for many European gas buyers.  And Russia still offers the cheapest energy - even if Europe disapproves of Moscow’s politics.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
March 21, 2014 2:57 PM
Europe is talking about isolating Russia and placing trade embargoes, this has been the driving force behind formation of euro zone all along. It was also behind the desire to pick Ukraine away from Russia, so the talk about isolating Russia is not just coming to light, it has been in the works since the Euro-USA alliance before, during and after the fall of the Berlin Walls or end(?) or rather ceasefire of the cold war. Western Europe and USA have never loved Russia and using any guise to impose sanctions or whatever restriction is just being shy, undiplomatic or timid. We are hoping it's not going to end in smoking guns once again. But I don't think Russia feels threatened enough by European and/or USA sanctions, after all it should be used to being out there in the cold alone by now. So what happens if Russia wakes up tomorrow and marches into Ukraine to take it? Will and can Europe, and USA go to war?

by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
March 21, 2014 10:25 AM
I wonder where Professor Alan Riley of CUL was earlier with his energy diversification plan. Hasn’t his brainwave come a little bit too late? Both sides of the Atlantic disapprove US shale gas import to Europe when taking into account the USA competitive advantage and more expenses to Europe. Alan Riley’s mentioning of coal sounds ridiculous, as if some deity has cancelled challenges of global warming and concerns originating from “dirty” coal. I don’t expect that the Germans will yield to the persuasion of turning on their nuclear station if they won’t ignore severe consequences of Chernobyl and Fukushima accidents. It looks like “ lots of options” isn’t that incouraging.

by: Igor from: Russia
March 21, 2014 3:27 AM
Dear all western partners, if you looked for altenative gas suppliers rather than Russia. Gas prices in your countries would surge and the living conditions of your people would decline sharply. Your economy would go down and down. The innocent people in your countries would suffer enough because of your stupid actions and they would never vote for you again. In response, Russia would sell gas ans oil to other markets such as China, India, asian and african countries.... at attractive prices. So think twice before making your decsions.
In Response

by: Keith from: USA
March 22, 2014 4:23 AM
@Igor
I agree with you that all this talk by the politicians only stirs things up. They do not have real jobs, so they make life harder for those who voted for them by letting ego based decisions drive things. We as a world need to stop all this stupidity and focus on solving the really hard problems before we go extinct as a species.

by: dave from: uk
March 20, 2014 7:35 PM
If we stopped burning gas just for heat we wouldn't need as much of it. Large heat pumps like the one in Drammen harvest heat from rivers and deliver it at 90C. www.tinyurl.com/quick-heat
In Response

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
March 21, 2014 3:03 PM
Let all of Europe relocate to Africa so they won't need gas for heating at anytime again. Of course they can go to hell altogether, for there, there's no need for heating

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9238
JPY
USD
119.51
GBP
USD
0.6614
CAD
USD
1.2119
INR
USD
63.562

Rates may not be current.