Currently, less than half of the EU’s gas demand is met by domestic production. The rest is imported, mainly from Norway (36 percent), Russia (41 percent) and Algeria (10 percent). In recent years, LNG, or liquefied natural gas, has accounted for around 10 percent of the imports, with most of them coming from Qatar, Algeria, and Nigeria.
Although there are ISIS groupings in Algeria, the gas installations seem now secured. The last major attack on a gas facility in Algeria happened in 2013; 132 foreign nationals were taken hostage. The inevitable European military intervention in Libya will force Jihadists to move to Algeria and Niger. In Algeria, they will endanger gas installations and in Niger, they pose a risk to Areva’s Uranium mine in Arlit. Arlit provides a big chunk of uranium for France’s nuclear plants, which produce 75 percent of French electricity.
Libya currently provides 9 percent of Italian gas consumption compared with 89 percent in 2011. With the largest oil reserve in Africa and the tenth largest globally Libya remains an important state in world oil. While Libyan gas comes from the relatively safe western regions of the country, which are situated in the border area close to Tunisia, the authorities are not able to provide a constant supply of gas to Italy. Now that Libya is a breeding ground for Jihadist groups it has become a threat to its neighbor Algeria, which supplies 10 percent of Europeans gas consumption.
In the Levant, near the coast of Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, and Cyprus, gas was discovered in 2010 by America’s Noble Energy, which caused a lot of geopolitical tension. Lebanon and Israel, being formally at war, are contesting their maritime borders. In the past Lebanese officials have accused Israel of trying to appropriate Lebanon’s resources and threatened that this could lead towar between the two countries. The discovery of gas near Cyprus resulted in a conflict between Turkey and Israel; in 2012 Turkey scrambled jets to deter an Israeli plane that violated the airspace over Turkish-held northern Cyprus. Israel, Cyprus and Greece are exploring the possibility to build a gas pipeline from the Levant gas fields via Cyprus to Greece, but in the current volatile political environment, coalitions are short lived. Turkey, being dependent on gas from its rival Russia, is looking for alternatives. Since the Gaza Flotilla incident, Israel-Turkey relations will not allow Turkey to be a part of the aforementioned planned gas infrastructure that will carry gas to Europe.
To become less dependent on Russian gas, Europe is exploring the delivery of gas from Central Asia. In May 2015, a quadrilateral meeting was held in Ashgabat the capital of Turkmenistan, which was attended by the heads of the energy ministries of Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and representatives of the European Commission. To keep Russia out of the equation, Turkmen gas has to use the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline, passing through Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey. The so-called Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline that connects Europe with the Caucasus, Caspian Sea, and Central Asia makes Europe reliant on Turkey. Since October, the relations between Ankara and Brussels are not based on mutual respect and friendship but rather on a power plays and unilateral dictates. Ankara now sets the terms of the relations between Turkey and the European Union rather than Brussels. The European population decries the deal Angela Merkel, and Mark Rutte made with Turkey. By forcing its will on the people of Europe by other means than decent diplomacy, Turkey displays an outright hostile attitude to Europe. Also, Turkey’s daily deliberate violation of Greece’s airspace shows the animosity between Turkey and one of European Union’s member states.
Russia is the European Union’s primary gas supplier. Germany and Russia are building the Nord Stream pipeline, which will runs from Russia through international waters straight to Germany, in order to become less dependent on the unstable political situation in Ukraine. The South Stream pipeline was planned to provide Southern Europe with gas, bypassing Ukraine: it should run from Russia to Bulgaria through the international waters of the Black Sea.
According to European Laws, the pipeline should also be available for other gas suppliers, a rule that is not applicable to the North Stream. Due to the hostile relations between Brussels and Moscow, Brussels has made any progress impossible, so Putin canceled the construction of the southern pipeline. As a result of this dispute, Turkey and Russia worked on an alternative plan, the so-called Turkish Stream pipeline, but this plan was canceled in 2015 in response to Turkey shooting down a Russian airplane. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has criticized Brussels and Berlin for preventing the adequate gas supply to Southern Europe while doubling the capacity of the Nord Stream. After the cancellation of the South Stream project, Russia started looking for alternative clients for its gas in China and was able to secure some big gas deals with China.
The Europeans are increasing their liquid natural gas installations to import gas from the U.S. and Australia; however, the projected increase in LNG imports will only compensate for the decline of domestic gas production in Europe.
Europe is heavily dependent on gas that comes from its neighbors. With the rise of ISIS in North Africa and the hostile relationship between Turkey and Russia, the old continent is now encircled by enemies.