Energy Independence for Europe – Nabucco and Shale Gas
Energy security has become a major issue for many European nations.
Since 1991, Europe has become increasingly dependent upon Russia for natural gas imports, with Russia’s state monopoly Gazprom now supplying 40% of Europe’s imports.
The gas crisis, which emerged the beginning of 2009 and highlighted by the seemingly annual winter spats between Russia and the Ukraine over payment rates and transit, has forced Europe to actively seek alternative ways of fuel supply to European market
The 'Southern Corridor Project ' is forms party of the plan for Europe to diversify energy supply routes in the hopes of achieving energy security. The main element of the Southern Corridor Project is the The Nabucco Gas pipeline.
Nabucco is a proposed 3,300 kilometres (2,050 mi) long pipeline designed to carry Caspian and Central Asian natural gas from Erzurum in Turkey via Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary to a major natural gas hub in Austria. The main source of Nabucco's supply will be the second stage of the Shah Deniz gas field in Azerbaijan.
Participants in the Nabucco project are Austrian OMV, Hungarian MOL, Bulgarian Bulgargaz, Romanian Transgaz, Turkish Botas and German RWE companies. Construction of gas pipeline is planned to be launched in 2011, with the first supplies of gas to be carried in 2014. Maximal capacity of the pipeline will reach 31 billion cubic meters (1.1 Tcf) per year.
Gazprom, together with Italy's Eni, are supporting an alternative project, South Stream pipeline project. However Nabucco is favored by Europe as the only project that will allow a diversified sources and route of gas supplies.
In addition to lessening its dependency on Russian energy, Europe is trying to head off future natural-gas shortages. The European Commission projects that the EU’s gas consumption will increase by as much as 61 percent from its current level of 502 bcm to 815 bcm by 2030. Russia alone would not be able to meet this increased demand.
Shale gas is also bound to play a meaningful part in Europe's energy security. In the United States, rising shale gas production has raised hopes that the country will soon be able to cover all its gas needs domestically.
Speaking at a session at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Tony Hayward, chief executive of BP spoke of gas extraction from shale as a "complete game changer" that would transform the future of energy in that country over the next 100 years. "[Unconventional gas is a] complete game changer in the US," he said. "It probably transforms the US energy outlook for the next 100 years. It's yet to seen if it can be applied globally."
Shale gas opportunities in Europe have drawn interest from many majors, including BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, Talisman Energy and Chevron.
New York Times