EU summit meeting with Russia in France is designed to reopen talks on a pact of cooperation after the crisis in relations caused by the Georgia conflict on August 2008. Before meeting hard words have been changed over Kaliningrad missiles, Nato radars and EU/OSCE monitors in Georgia. However the core question can be the energy game. A day before summit EU came out with its supergrid plan and Russia questioning Baltic Pipe. Southern energy corridor is an other battleground.
Power supergrid plan
EU’s Power supergrid plan is partly designed to decrease EU’s dependence about Russian gas. The Timesonline got look about plan and describes it as follows (Source: Timesonline):
The building blocks of the proposed supergrid would be new cables linking North Sea wind farms, and a network patching together the disparate electricity grids of the Baltic region and the countries bordering the Mediterranean, according to a blueprint drawn up by the European Commission. EU states will also be asked to pay for at least two ambitious gas pipelines to bring in supplies from Central Asia and Africa. The plans also call for a Community Gas Ring, or a network allowing EU countries to share supplies if Russia turns off the taps.
The EU Energy Security Plan notes that Europe imports 61 per cent of its gas, a figure projected to rise to 73 per cent by 2020. Russia sells about two-fifths of the total, including the entire supply of several countries.
How the supergrid will work is described in graphic here Source Timesonline europesupergrid2
Same time in South…
One part of energy game is the southern energy corridor. During 2008 Russia has put also the southern corridor pipeline in doubts. Gazprom has override “Nabucco” with its rival “SouthStream” project. Same time GUUAM Group in Caucasus – cooperation body supported by US energy giants and military-industrial-complex – is breaking up as well rest of US “Silk Road Strategy”. (More about this in my previous artcles ”War on pipes” 9/9/2008 and “Is GUUAM dead” 4/11/2008 from my Archives:Blog)
…and in North
Also a day before Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has questioned the construction of the Nord Stream pipeline for the first time since the signing of the agreement with Germany to establish the gas delivery network, as gas is set to become cheaper along with the drop in oil prices.
“Europe must decide whether it needs this pipeline or not,” Mr Putin told Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen on Wednesday (12 November) at a meeting in Moscow. “If you don’t, we will build liquefaction plants and send gas to world markets, including to European markets. But it will be simply more expensive for you,” he added.
The Baltic states and Poland strongly oppose the project, concerned they would be cut off from existing gas infrastructure with Russia, as Moscow would probably channel most of the gas deliveries through the direct pipeline to Germany. Sweden also opposes the project due to environmental concerns, echoed by MEPs, who have called for a new investigation into the pipeline’s impact on the environment. Finland, one of several EU states that has a say in approving the project, will conduct an environmental review of the plan next year, Mr Vanhanen said after the meeting with his Russian counterpart on Wednesday. (Source EUobserver.com)
So for Baltic states and Poland Nord Stream is more political and partly economical question, for Germany mainly economical topic and for Sweden and Finland mostly environmental question.
The bottom line
It is interesting to see how the power game will be developing. How big share gas, oil and wind will claim from energy markets? Where the pipes will be? How environmental and economical aspects will match with political aims? The game is still open.