Europe’s pipe dream

Prospect Magazine

Europe’s pipe dream

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Like it or not, Europe needs Russian gas

Russia’s annual gas row with Ukraine erupted again in December, shutting down exports for nearly two weeks. Brussels fretted, Moscow and Kiev swapped insults and their two state-controlled energy firms—Gazprom and Naftogaz—bickered, before reaching a compromise. (Russia wanted to raise Ukraine’s bill in line with European prices, while Ukraine wanted more money to transport the gas.) The dispute, more serious than its predecessor in 2006, will trigger yet more debate about Europe’s energy supplies. Three years of tough EU rhetoric, however, have yielded little progress. The EU’s flawed strategy—that market liberalisation will bring energy security—has been undone by energy companies careless of the continent’s broader long-term needs as they pursue short-term profits.

Gas is a particular flashpoint. It burns more cleanly than oil and coal, which is important for plans to slow global warming. Its power stations are also cheap, which energy companies like. This has pushed up demand: despite

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Derek Brower

Derek Brower is a journalist who covers oil, gas and energy politics 

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