Does Europe need a Tsar pipeline?

On a 70th anniversary of D-Day, 3 US senators landed on European dirt in a wilful pierce to stop a Russian appetite import advance. Their publicised end was a discussion in Poland. The genuine conflict senators John McCain, Ron Johnson and Christopher Murphy fought was serve south.

It took them a few hours, in a corner operation with a European Commission, to turn a arm of a Bulgarian government, that on June 8, announced that it was interlude a rarely argumentative South Stream gas pipeline. The subsequent day, Serbia also pronounced that it was crude a project. Once a senators flew back, a Serbian and a Bulgarian governments pronounced that they had not accurately stopped a project. The story is boring on and on.

South Stream is approaching to cranky a Black Sea, bypassing Ukraine, to broach adult to 63 billion cubic metres of healthy gas to Europe any year. The plan has always been a thorn in a eye of all endangered about a high dependency of Europe on Russian appetite imports. After Moscow’s cast of Crimea, a geopolitical stress incited into a dynamic bid to kill a project.

This antithesis has good reasons. South Stream does not intend to approve with EU foe manners requiring entrance for third parties. The vastly overpriced agreement for a plan was not awarded in a pure way, or in suitability with European manners for open procurement. Last though not least, a poignant partial of a construction’s agreement was offering to Gennady Timchenko, one of a cronies of Russian President Vladimir Putin who was blacklisted by a US government.

South Stream has many apparent flaws. One issue, however, has been left out of a debate. Does Europe unequivocally need this gas?

Alternatives to Russian gas

Gas expenditure in Europe is declining. It competence grow a bit in a future, though it competence not. Eurogas, a organisation representing a interests of a European gas industry, says that European gas expenditure in 2035 competence boost by approximately 20 percent compared to a turn of 2010. Or competence diminution by approximately 10 percent. It depends on many factors and EU appetite policies.

A new study by Anglia Ruskin University suggested that a UK competence run out of a possess gas supply in 3 years, and Italy and France competence run out of domestic gas pot in about a year. But some-more gas competence be entrance to a European market.

The Ukrainian predicament will substantially assistance unblock objections to shale gas scrutiny in Europe. It is rarely doubtful that EU could repeat a US shale boom, though a United Kingdom, Ukraine, Poland and Romania are relocating brazen with desirous shale gas scrutiny and descent plans. Germany and other countries could follow. Once a singular nation in Europe starts extracting shale gas, it would be formidable to stop many of a others from doing so. 

Conventional gas is already creation headway. Israeli has motionless to to trade about 40 percent of a gas pot or 410 billion cubic metres. Cyprus has proven pot of around 140 billion cubic metres so far. These are not quantities that could alone reinstate Russian gas, though they could revoke Europe’s dependency on Russia. And scrutiny continues. In April, Croatia announced a proposal for gas and oil scrutiny in a Adriatic. Romania is drilling in a Black Sea and is anticipating in a not so apart destiny to turn a net gas exporter.

The Trans-Anatolian gas tube bringing Caspian gas from Azerbaijan to Europe around Turkey is approaching to ride 16 billion cubic meters of gas in 2018 and strech a ability of 60 billion cubic metres in 2026. Gas-rich Turkmenistan is augmenting a gas production. Soon Iran competence turn Washington’s best friend, that will open a world’s second largest gas pot for a European market. Italy could boost a imports from North Africa. Other countries are also looking into gas scrutiny in a Black Sea and a Mediterranean.

Then there is liquefied healthy gas (LNG). Europe uses usually about a third of a 200 billion cubic metres LNG import capacity. The remaining dual thirds, that roughly equals a volume Europe is importing from Russia, is accessible and some-more is entrance online with Poland, Greece, Italy and other countries building or formulation to build LNG terminals. While during a impulse liquefied gas is costly and a European tube infrastructure is not optimised to take advantage of a full LNG import capacity, in a destiny that competence change.

Finally, a desirous appetite potency and a renewable appetite policies of a EU are starting to have a constructional impact on Europe’s appetite mix. In a final year, a German appetite hulk RWE sealed down or mothballed some-more than 6 percent of a gas and spark appetite era capacity, quoting as a heading reason, a expansion of renewables. E.ON has announced skeleton to tighten 13 gigawatts of thermal assets. Other appetite companies are shutting appetite era ability progressing than designed as well.

With nearby 0 appetite (nZEB) standards for all new buildings entrance into force between 2018 and 2020 opposite a EU, gas direct could continue to decline. Denmark has already criminialized gas-fuelled executive heating.

All this creates a vastly overpriced South Stream tube a bit like a outrageous Tsar Cannon and Tsar Bell, both kept in Moscow’s Kremlin. The Tsar Cannon is famous for a fact that it has never dismissed a singular shot, and Tsar Bell pennyless before it ever managed to ring. Russia competence be penetrating to supplement to a collection a Tsar Pipeline as well, though because Europe should be concerned in this journey is not utterly clear.

Julian Popov is fellow of a European Climate Foundation, Chairman of a Buildings Performance Institute Europe, former Bulgaria’s Minister of Environment and Water. 

Follow him on Twitter: @julianpopov


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The views voiced in this essay are a author’s possess and do not indispensably simulate Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

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