Member states continued to be divided over rival pipeline projects but also built or reinforced interconnectors to diversify supply.
The EU aspires to help decrease the dependence of several member states on deliveries of Russian gas and oil, mainly through interconnections between member states and support of new transit projects such as Nabucco and South Stream and the construction of new terminals for liquefied natural gas. The EU also wants to prevent cuts in gas supplies from Russia.
Nabucco was given a new lease of life in 2010 after Bulgaria and Romania ratified the intergovernmental agreement in February, followed by Turkey in March. The French company GDF Suez applied to join the consortium in February 2010 – a signal that the project is an attractive investment opportunity. In September, the European Investment Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the International Finance Consortium signed an agreement with the Nabucco consortium to explore possibilities for a financial package of €4 billion. Bulgaria also joined the South Stream pipeline, which links Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia, Austria and Italy. In September, Hungary also joined the Azerbaijan-Georgia-Romania Interconnector (AGRI) project, which would also help decrease dependence on Russian gas. At the same time, however, construction of the Nord Stream pipeline – which links Russia with Germany and will increase the role of Russia in gas deliveries to Europe – began in April 2010 despite objections from Poland and the Baltic countries.
Despite these ongoing divisions over pipelines, however, member states including Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Sweden also continued to work with the European Commission under the European Energy Programme for Recovery to build or reinforce interconnectors to diversify gas transit routes. The EU strategy for the Baltic Sea Region – which could significantly decrease the Baltic states’ energy dependence on Russia through investment in energy efficiency and connecting grids and gas pipelines – also entered the implementation phase.