As a ban on Russian oil and gas imports looms ever closer on the horizon, member states are preparing their plans and strategies for living without them.
Russia is the world’s largest exporter of natural gas and oil. According to International Energy, 45% of Russia’s federal budget in 2021 came from oil and natural gas revenues.
After the world learned of the Bucha massacre, pressure grew to ban them altogether.
While member states are still divided on the timetable, they have agreed on the need to phase out Russian energy. Many of them are already exploring oil and gas options. Some of them are looking for alternative suppliers, while French President Emmanuel Macron is betting on renewable energy.
Central Europe and Southern Europe
Dependence on Russia is highest in Central Europe.
Czechia imports all its gas and half of all the country’s oil. The government is currently preparing a supplier diversification strategy, the Czech Ministry of Trade and Industry said.
“The legislative environment is being prepared for the admission of Norwegian gas to the territory of the Czech Republic,” the ministry told EURACTIV.cz. The ministry also expressed support for joint gas purchases to replace Russian gas.
Slovakia is also one of the EU countries most dependent on Russia. The Slovak government recently agreed on a crisis plan in case gas imports stop, but no information has been made public about what this might entail.
Economy Minister Richard Sulík said Slovakia is studying the possibility of importing LNG from the United States and Qatar. Sulík, however, said the capacity of LNG terminals in Europe is not large enough to cover the loss of Russian gas.
Hungary gets almost 95% of its gas and about half of its oil from Russia. Currently, there are no public plans on how to cover the loss, and the Hungarian government is against a ban, insisting there is no alternative.
Meanwhile, Romania has its own oil and gas production, covering 70% of consumption. However, in recent years, gas imports have increased while domestic production is declining. More than 80% of imports come from Russia. The existence of a contingency plan has not been made public, but the energy minister was looking for additional gas sources even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It is also planned to start mining new deposits in the Black Sea.
Not only is Bulgaria nearly 100% dependent on Russian gas, but its only refinery, in the port city of Burgas, is owned by Russia’s Lukoil and can only process Russian oil. This is also the problem of the Slovakian refinery Slovnaft. In September, a new interconnector with Greece is expected to start operating, creating the potential to replace one-third of the gas that Bulgaria usually imports from Russia with Azeri gas.
Dependence on Russia is lower in Western countries with the notable exception of Austria, Germany and Italy. For Austria and Germany, Russian gas is considered indispensable. In the event of a crisis, the government is ready to pay industrial operators to limit consumption and eventually cut off all supply to industry. Germany is actively exploring Qatar and US LNG for alternative supply routes.
Italy is also trying to end its dependence on Moscow. For gas, Rome has signed an agreement with Algeria for additional supplies and negotiations are underway with Egypt and Azerbaijan.
The strategy of French President Emmanuel Macron is based on the massive development of renewable energies and nuclear power. France also aims to increase LNG imports and reduce overall energy consumption.
The Finnish plan is similar: securing alternative suppliers and accelerating the green transition. The government has already instructed a ministerial working group to prepare measures to increase domestic energy production and step up the installation of new heating systems.