The “Braggadocio” of Russian Gas

The Financial Times is running a special report today on energy security, taking note that most governments in Europe still haven’t figured out how to tell their voters that alternative energy strategies may be costly now but valuable for the future.  The article is quite long to get any representative extract, but you can see that Gazprom continues to cast a long shadow over the debate:

Imported energy does not necessarily mean insecure energy, but as the freezing Bulgarians know only too well, it is often more vulnerable to disruption, and on present trends, the proportion of imports in most countries’ energy consumption is set to grow. (…)

The position for gas is somewhat different, because the spectacular success of US “unconventional” gas production, from shale rocks that have not previously been economically viable reserves, means that even on “business-as-usual” policies, America’s need for gas imports will fall rather than rise. However, the EU and China are on course to import more gas, as production fails to keep up with demand.

By 2025, the Russians have suggested, the only significant gas exporters in the world will be themselves, Iran and Qatar, which source gas from what is effectively the same enormous field in the Persian Gulf. That claim has an element of braggadocio, but the prospect is troubling enough to encourage both Europe and China to look for alternatives.