Russian natural gas exports are once again high on the agenda. Russia is completing two new pipelines to Europe, just inaugurated a new gas pipeline to China, and is boosting its presence in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) market. All this is happening as the outlook for gas in Europe is being upended by new supplies and routes, by new rules and regulations, and by an ambitious decarbonization agenda that will reshape the role of gas in the European energy system, and thus the relationship with Russia.
The Europe-Russia relationship has always had a political and geopolitical dimension, ever since the Soviet Union first supplied gas to Western Europe in the late 1960s. “Yet to boil down the subject of Russian-European gas relations to geopolitics is to miss a large part of the story,” writes Thane Gustafson, a professor of government at Georgetown University and a Senior Director at IHS Markit, in his new book The Bridge: Natural Gas in a Redivided Europe (Harvard University Press, 2020). He continues to say: “The gas revolution in Europe has deep roots, which originated quite independently of Russia, and are only distantly related to geopolitics.”
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