3.03.2010

Edgy in Europe

I've discussed Gazprom and the Nord Stream previously at length, but it's interesting to note now that Europe is reading the writing on the wall:
Yesterday, during Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's visit to Paris, French energy giant GDF Suez announced it would be taking a 9 percent stake in the Nord Stream project in order to secure increased Russian deliveries from 2015. And today, the EU's energy commissioner said that the South Stream project could actually gain the EU Commission's backing. It was the first explicit statement of the kind for a project in direct competition with the EU's own Nabucco pipeline, which has long been shorthand for EU energy security.

What's changed? There's the fact that Nabucco continues to face pretty significant obstacles with regard to supply and feasability. But the triggering incident seems to be the 2008 gas war between Gazprom and Ukraine. The consensus judgment blames Ukraine for the dispute, meaning that European energy security no longer means diversifying supplies away from Gazprom, but rather diversify routes away from Ukraine (where 80 percent of Europe-bound Russian gas now transits).
I still argue that the problem lies in increased reliance on Gazprom, and thus on Russian foreign-policy calculations, than on Ukraine, and that continuing to allow Nabucco to stall is a real mistake. But at least Europe is doing something to try to take control of its own energy security. Will it be enough?