Gazprom’s expansion in the EU: co-operation or domination?

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Series Details (October 2009)
Publication Date October 2009
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The energy sector, especially with regard to the gas trade, is one of the key areas of co-operation between the EU and Russia. However, the form this co-operation has taken has been giving rise to some concern, both in Brussels and in the EU member states. Questions arise as to whether the EU has not become excessively dependent on Russia for energy, and whether the presence of the Russian gas monopoly in the EU does not enable Russian interference with the development of EU energy policy.

The objective of this series of OSW reports (for the previous edition,see Gazprom’s expansion in the EU: co-operation or domination? April 2008) is to provide facts which will permit an accurat answer to these questions to be formulated. Over the course of last year, two new factors strongly affected Gazprom’s capability to operate on the EU market. One was the ongoing global economic crisis, which has depressed demand for gas both in Russia and in Europe. Gazprom has cut both its own production and the quantities of gas it purchases from the Central Asian states, and the decrease in export revenues has forced the company to modify some of its current investment plans. Less demand for gas and the need to reduce production are also having a positive impact – the Russian company is likely to avoid the difficulties in meeting all of its export commitments which, only a year or so ago, it was expected to experience. The other factor affecting Gazprom’s expansion in Europe is the observed radicalisation of the rhetoric and actions of both the company itself and of the Russian authorities with regard to the gas sector as broadly understood.

The gas crisis between Russia and Ukraine in January 2009, which resulted in a two-week interruption of gas supplies from Russia to Europe via Ukraine, was the most prominent example of this radicalisation. The hardening of rhetoric in the ongoing energy talks with the EU and other actors, and increased political and business activities designed to promote Russian gas interests in Europe, in particular the lobbying for the Nord Stream and South Stream projects, are further signs of this shift in tone. These issues raise the question of whether, and to what extent, the current condition of Gazprom’s finance will permit the company to implement the infrastructural projects it has been endorsing and its other investment plans in Europe.

Another important question is whether the currently observed changes in how Gazprom operates will take on a more permanent character, and what consequences this will have for the European Union. The first part of this report discusses Gazprom’s production and export potential. The second comprehensively presents the scope and nature of Gazprom’s economic presence in the EU member states. Finally, the third part presents the Russian company’s methods of operation on foreign markets. The data presented in the report come mainly from the statistics of the International Energy Agency, the European Commission and Gazprom, as well as the Central Bank of Russia and the Russian Statistical Office. The figures presented here also include proprietary calculations by the OSW based on figures disclosed by energy companies and reports by professional press and news agencies.

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