Security of Russian Gas Supplies to the EU - the Qestion of Infrastructural Connections
The energy security of countries importing energy resources depends largely on the shape and quality of operational transport connections. This is particularly important in the case of natural gas supplies. Natural gas is transported mostly by gas pipelines which permanently connect gas producers and consumers. Thus Europe as a consumer is "tied" to certain gas suppliers for anywhere between a dozen and several tens of years. As their own resources are becoming depleted, the EU Member States get increasingly dependent on import of natural gas.
The present paper discusses the existing and projected gas transport routes from Russia to the EU. The first part deals with the importance of gas exports to the economy of the Russian Federation, and the second delves into the EU Member States' dependence on gas imports. Then this paper examines the differences in perceiving the energy security issue between the old and the new Member States, those differences stemming from the different degrees of their dependence on Russian supplies. In the third part, two new transport route projects for Russian gas supplies to the EU are compared and it is argued that from the point of view of the Community's interests, the Yamal gas pipeline is a better solution than the North European (Trans-Baltic) gas pipeline.