Study: Russian gas to fall short of EU demand

February 18, 2010, Uppsala University

The political ramifications of dependence on Russian natural gas are a current, lively topic of debate within the EU. One issue that deserves more attention is whether sufficient gas will even be available for export to the EU. So argues physicist Bengt Söderbergh, whose dissertation provides an assessment of future Norwegian and Russian gas export levels. He is scheduled to defend his dissertation on 19 February at Uppsala University (Sweden).

According to forecasts by the International Energy Agency (IEA), production of natural gas within the EU will decline from the 2006 level of 216 billion cubic metres per year (Gm3/year) to 90 Gm3/year by 2030, even as demand for gas is expected to rise significantly. The need to import gas will accordingly increase by up to 90 per cent during the period. Russia and Norway are currently the most significant suppliers of gas to the EU. Their combined share of the EU's gas imports during 2006 was 62 per cent.

Bengt Söderbergh's dissertation aims at an evaluation of future levels of Norwegian and Russian gas exports to the EU. Norwegian and Russian gas production scenarios were developed based on modelling of production from individual gas fields. The combined production from the largest fields - the so-called "giant fields" - was forecast.

EU energy security is significantly dependent on production from a relatively small number of Norwegian and Russian fields. Almost all of Norway's production derives from 18 large fields, 9 of which are classifiable as giant fields. Essentially all of Russia's production derives from 36 giant fields.

The findings show that there is little potential for an increase in the level of Norwegian gas exports to the EU. All of the scenarios studied indicate that Norwegian gas production will be in decline by 2030, by which year Norwegian gas deliveries to the EU via pipeline may have fallen by as much as 20 per cent from today's level. A study of potential production from Russian giant fields indicates a maximum increase of 45 per cent in the level of Russian gas exports to the EU by 2030. In absolute terms, this corresponds to approximately 70 Gm3/year. A number of additional factors may entail significantly lower actual export capacity.

"The single most important determinant of whether the current level of Russian gas exports to the EU will increase will be whether gas fields on the Arctic Yamal Peninsula enter production in 2012 and thereafter," says Bengt Söderbergh. "Many of the Russian fields yet to enter production are located in Eastern Siberia and in the area of Sakhalin in the Russian Far East. Surplus production from these regions will in all probability be exported to Asian markets, primarily the Chinese market."

The results and assumptions presented in the dissertation are inconsistent with a 90 per cent increase, over the 2006 level, in imports by the EU. Dependence on pipeline-borne gas imports is not the only matter with vital implications for EU energy security. The geopolitical ramifications of dependence on importation of Russian gas via pipeline are currently a lively topic of debate within the EU.

From a European energy security perspective the dependence of pipeline gas imports is not the only energy security problem to be in the limelight, the question of physical availability of overall gas supplies deserves serious attention as well.

"There is a lively discussion regarding the geopolitical implications of European dependence on imported gas from Russia. However, the results of this thesis suggest that when assessing the future gas demand of the EU it would be of equal importance to be concerned about diminishing availability of global gas supplies, says Bengt Söderbergh."

Explore further: EU energy policy encounters difficulties

Related Stories

EU energy policy encounters difficulties

February 8, 2006

The European Union's efforts to boost European energy security are reportedly conflicting with some EU member states' national security interests.

Biodiesel won't drive down global warming

April 23, 2007

EU legislation to promote the uptake of biodiesel will not make any difference to global warming, and could potentially result in greater emissions of greenhouse gases than from conventional petroleum derived diesel. This ...

EU may miss pollution targets

November 29, 2005

The European Environment Agency says the European Union will likely miss its greenhouse gas targets by a wide margin.

Sound waves turn natural gas into liquid

March 6, 2007

Worldwide, 100 billion cubic meters of natural gas is wasted every year. Now, the Denver-based company Swift LNG aims to turn that gas into a usable liquid fuel with a thermoacoustic natural gas liquefaction technology just ...

Recommended for you

Unprecedented study of Picasso's bronzes uncovers new details

February 17, 2018

Musee national Picasso-Paris and the Northwestern University/Art Institute of Chicago Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts (NU-ACCESS) have completed the first major material survey and study of the Musee national Picasso-Paris' ...

Humans will actually react pretty well to news of alien life

February 16, 2018

As humans reach out technologically to see if there are other life forms in the universe, one important question needs to be answered: When we make contact, how are we going to handle it? Will we feel threatened and react ...

Using Twitter to discover how language changes

February 16, 2018

Scientists at Royal Holloway, University of London, have studied more than 200 million Twitter messages to try and unravel the mystery of how language evolves and spreads.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.