Despite widespread talk about “revolutions” in liquefied natural gas technology and shale gas extraction, very little has been done to reduce Russia’s stranglehold on European natural gas markets. About 40 percent of Europe’s natural gas, according to EU figures released last year, continues to be supplied by its neighbor to the east.
Russia’s large share of natural gas deliveries to Europe poses significant challenges. Most notably, it gives an increasingly authoritarian Russia substantial leverage over countries that are important U.S. allies. It’s no coincidence that Germany, which is the single largest purchaser of Russian natural gas, remains arguably the strongest skeptic of Georgia’s NATO membership bid. Germany has also strived to block European Union (EU) regulations that restrict the ability of foreign companies to operate energy utilities and distribution components in member states. In response, the Kremlin implicitly threatens to raise gas prices on countries that support such regulations.
But Moscow doesn’t have to exert too much effort to remind Europeans about the potential consequences of collective efforts to reduce Russia’s energy influence or other undesirable policies from the Kremlin’s perspective. Europeans remember Russia’s decision to shut off gas deliveries to Ukraine and even its closest ally Belarus on several occasions. Several countries were left in the cold in 2009 when Moscow ceased gas deliveries to Ukraine.
Full article: Will EU Drop Caspian Pipedream? (The Diplomat)