CIS gas for Europe - the transit issue
The European Union’s (EU) consumption of natural gas has been growing rapidly over the last two decades. Gas has become an increasingly important component of the EU’s energy mix, with gas-fired power plants gradually replacing less environmentally friendly coal plants. Domestic gas production covered close to 60 percent of the EU’s consumption needs during the 1990s, but by 2007 it declined substantially around 40 percent (see Figure 1). The rest is imported from three main sources: Russia (around 40 percent of total gas imports), Norway (around 25 percent) and various African countries among them Algeria, Nigeria, Libya and Egypt which account for around 25 percent. The last few years have also heightened public worries in Europe over the security of its gas supplies, primarily those imports coming from Russia. These fears were partly confirmed in January 2009 when several EU and non- EU countries faced a sudden cut in their gas supplies. The Russian- Ukrainian stand-off only reinforced the argument that more needs to be done to strengthen the reliability of access to vital energy resources.