Security of Supply13 August 2009
by Ina Dimireva -- last modified 02 February 2012
With both energy consumption and dependency on oil and gas imports growing and supplies becoming scarcer, the risk of supply failure is rising. Securing European energy supplies is therefore high on the EU's agenda.
Besides promoting energy efficiency, the European Union promotes a broad mix of energy sources. Moreover, it aims for diversity in suppliers, transport routes and transport mechanisms. Several safeguard mechanisms shall secure energy supply for European citizens and industries: Building reliable partnerships with supplier, transit and consumer countries reduces the risks of Europe's energy dependency. Member countries have to keep emergency stocks of gas and oil and ensure investments in electricity networks. A coordination mechanism has been set up so that Member States can react uniformly and immediately in emergency cases.
The Communication sets out for the first time a comprehensive strategy for the EU's external relations in energy. Improved coordination among EU Member States in identifying and implementing clear priorities in external energy policy is central to the approach outlined by the Commission.
Strategic oil stocks
The obligation of the Member States to build up and maintain a minimum petroleum reserve gives security of supply of petroleum resources to the European Union (EU). Given the importance of oil in the EU's energy mix, the EU's strong external dependence for supply of petroleum products and the geopolitical uncertainty in many producer regions, it is vital to guarantee consumers continuous access to petroleum products.
Security of supply of natural gas
Natural gas, which is regarded as the preferred fuel for electricity production in the European Union, is becoming an increasingly important source of energy. Europe is in a relatively strong position as regards gas supplies, as it has significant reserves of its own and 70%-80% of world reserves are within the European market's economic reach. In the new internal gas market, there will no longer be a single player guaranteeing security of supply. Consequently, responsibility for this task cannot be entrusted solely to the industry, which is itself dependent on its external supplies.
With a view to insuring the functioning of the internal energy market, the largest competitive market for electricity and gas in the world, the European Union (EU) establishes obligations to safeguard security of electricity supply and undertake significant investment in electricity networks. Blackouts in both the EU and US have highlighted the need to define clear operational standards for transmission networks and for correct maintenance and development of the network.
Source: European Commission