Net Energy Import Dependency
The EU’s dependence on imports of fossil fuels from non-EU countries has increased in recent years. Total net imports (imports minus exports) of natural gas, solid fuels and oil (including petroleum products) as a share of primary energy consumption rose from 47.8 % in 2000 to 54.5% in 2007. The increased use of gas, primarily replacing domestic coal, has had a positive environmental benefit within the EU (for example via reduced emissions of greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions), but has also increased some risks associated with security of energy supply.
Is fossil fuel import dependency decreasing in Europe?
EU27 net imports of natural gas, oil, solid fuels and the sum of these, by country of origin, as a % of fuel-specific gross inland energy consumption
Note: EU27 net imports of natural gas, oil, solid fuels and the sum of these, by country of origin, as a % of fuel-specific gross inland energy consumption
Eurostat, Energy statistics, Exports (by country of origin). http://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui/show.do?dataset=nrg_131a&lang=en
Member State net (Extra-EU27) imports of natural gas, oil and solid fuels as a % of total Gross Inland Energy Consumption, 2007
Note: Member State net (Extra-EU27) imports of natural gas, oil and solid fuels as a % of total Gross Inland Energy Consumption, 2007
Member State primary production of natural gas, oil and solid fuels as a % of total Gross Inland Energy Consumption, 2007
Note: Member State primary production of natural gas, oil and solid fuels as a % of total Gross Inland Energy Consumption, 2007
Eurostat, Energy statistics, Exports (by country of origin). http://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui/show.do?dataset=nrg_131a&lang=en
Net imports of all fossil fuels and CO2 emissions in EU-27 by fuel and origin of the fuel, 2007
Note: Net imports of all fossil fuels and CO2 emissions in EU-27 by fuel and origin of the fuel, 2007
EEA, Data on greenhouse gas emissions and removals, sent by countries to UNFCCC and the EU Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Mechanism (EU Member States)
Eurostat, Energy statistics, Supply, transformation, consumption - all products - annual data. http://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui/show.do?dataset=nrg_100a&lang=en
- The EU’s energy system remains highly dependent on fossil fuels (see ENER 26). The EU’s dependence on imports of fossil fuels (natural gas, solid fuels and oil) from non-EU countries rose from 47.8% in 2000 (as a share of total gross inland energy consumption) to 54.5 % in 2007 (see Figure 1, 54.0% excluding the net imports of petroleum products). Of these imports, 33% originate from Russia, 14% from Norway, 6% from Algeria and 6% from Libya. Oil imports are highest and accounted for 59.7% of total net fossil fuel imports and 90% of oil-based gross inland consumption in 2007, followed by natural gas 26.5% of total fossil fuel import and 60.3% of gas-based gross inland consumption and solid fuels with 13.9% of total fossil fuel import and 41.2% of solid fuel-based gross inland consumption (see Figure 1 and Figure 2 for data by member state).
- There is a large trade volume of petroleum products in EU27. In 2007, 287Mtoe petroleum products were imported in EU27 countries, equivalent to 44% of total oil-based gross inland consumption. A share of 62% of this traded volume moved within EU27 countries. In the same year, 282 Mtoe was exported, of which 63% within EU27 countries. The resulting net import of petroleum products in EU27 from countries outside EU27 was small and equivalent to 10 Mtoe in 2007.
- In addition to fossil fuels, Europe imports also uranium for its nuclear power industry which accounts for about 30% of the world's nuclear power generation. The EU industry has the capacity for uranium enrichment and fuel fabrication, but is dependent on imported uranium (see also ENER13). The situation is however better (from diversity of supply point of view) than for most fossil fuels, due to the wide distribution of uranium around the globe, in geopolitically stable areas (see Figure 5). In 2008, 25% of uranium delivered to utilities in EU27 originated from Canada, 17% from Russia and 16% from Australia.
- Biomass imports in EU27 are small. In 2008, net imports as share of total primary biomass supply amounted to 2.4% and 4.5% of total imports (IEA, 2009).
- Russia remains the largest single energy exporter of energy commodities to the EU in 2007, having supplied 20% of EU’s total gross inland energy consumption and 33% of total import of fossil fuels, up from 24% in 2000 (see Figure1). The increase reflects mainly the quadrupling of coal exports and doubling of oil exports over the period. In addition, Russia supplied also 17% of uranium to the EU in 2008.
- The net dependence on fuel imports varies significantly between Member States as illustrated by Figure2. This reflects differences in the availability of indigenous fossil resources and renewables (see ENER 26 and ENER29). In addition, the level of crude oil import reflects the availability of refining capacity and direct production of final products (for self consumption or export) versus direct import of these final products (Wood Mackenzie, 2007). In some cases (for example Lithuania) this leads to high import dependence as a share of primary energy of 92% in 2007 (as some refined products are exported). Conversely, for other countries there is limited or no refining capacity (for example in the case of Luxembourg) and hence only final products are imported.
 Definitions are provided in the meta data.
What are the trends and the driving forces behind the gas import dependency?
- Natural gas imports accounted for 60% of total EU’s gas-based gross inland consumption, up from 49% in 2000. Rising natural gas net imports are driven by a combination of: declining domestic EU reserves, rising electricity demand and environmental legislation (such as the Large Combustion Plant Directive 2001/80/EC and the EU Emissions Trading Scheme 2003/87/EC), which tends to favour the use of natural gas which is less polluting. The price differential with coal also plays a role. In 2007, the imported gas (from outside EU27) came mainly from Russia (39%) and Norway (25%).
- In 2008, the share of LNG in imported natural gas amounted to 16% of gas-based gross inland consumption. LNG is expected to have wider applications from replacing piped natural gas to ship fuel and fuel for industrial applications (see for instance the small scale LNG production in Norway). Spain and France are the biggest LNG importers in 2008 according to BP (2009), accounting for 87% of total LNG imports in EU27. A larger share of LNG in the European energy mix may reduce the environmental pressures coming from the energy production (GHG emissions and air pollution), depending on the fuel used for shipping as well as the routes chosen. Also, the development of LNG markets may help in diversifying the natural gas suppliers, as countries such as Egypt and Qatar are expected to be amongst the main suppliers of LNG.
What are the trends and the driving forces behind the solid fuels import dependency?
- The share of coal imports in the EU’s coal-based gross inland consumption was 41% in 2007, up from 30% in 2000. 94% of this import is hard coal, 4% of hard coke and 2% of lignite. The EU still has significant reserves of coal, estimated to range between 8.5-19 Gtonne for hard coal and 21-75 Gtonne for lignite in 2005, equivalent to 60-200 times the current coal use in EU27 (EC, 2008c). However, the lowest-cost seams have generally been extracted already making it more economic to import. The share of coal in gross inland energy consumption has declined over time, from 27% in 1990 to 18% in years 2001-2007 due to increasing use of natural gas, mainly in power generation and space heating (see also Figure 3 for domestic production).
Indicator specification and metadata
The fuel sources: solid fuels, oil and gas refer to Eurostat categories:
Solid fuels: Hard coal & Derivatives 2100 (sub categories used: Hard Coal 2111, Patent Fuels 2112, Hard Coke 2121) and Lignite & Derivaties 2200 (sub categories used: Brown Coal (Lignite) 2212, Brown Coal Coke 2220, Brown Coal Briquettes 2230 and Peat 2310). Data for other solid fuels sub categories is not available.
Oil: Crude Oil & Feedstocks 3100 and All Petroleum Products 3200 (this includes LPG, refinery gas, motor spirit, kerosenes, naphtha, gas/diesel oil, residual fuel oil, white & industrial spirit, lubricants, bitumen, petroleum coke and other petroleum products)
Gas: Natural Gas 4100. Data for other gas products is not available.
EU27 net dependence on imports of solid fuels, oil, and gas as a percentage of Gross Inland Energy Consumption by country of origin. MS net (Extra-EU27) dependence on imports of the same products as a percentage of total GIEC, differentiated by intra-EU imports (from another Member State) and extra-EU imports from outside of the EU27. Estimated split of CO2 emissions from imported fuel versus domestic fuel (for all fossil fuels).
Geographical coverage: EU27 member states. No data available for Cyprus and Malta
Temporal coverage: 2000-2008, Projections 2020
Data collected annually.
Eurostat definitions for energy statistics http://circa.europa.eu/irc/dsis/coded/info/data/coded/en/Theme9.htm
Eurostat metadata for energy statistics http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_SDDS/EN/nrg_base.htm
Official data (national total and sectoral emissions) reported to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and under the EU Monitoring Mechanism and EIONET. For the EU-27, these data are
compiled by EEA in the European greenhouse gas inventory report: http://reports.eea.europa.eu/technical_report_2008_6/en
Net import of gas is measured in oil equivalent (toe).
Policy context and targets
Council adopted on 6 April 2009 the climate-energy legislative package containing measures to fight climate change and promote renewable energy. This package is designed to achieve the EU's overall environmental target of a 20 % reduction in greenhouse gases and a 20 % share of renewable energy in the EU's total energy consumption by 2020. The measures adopted are also likely to decrease the import dependency of fossil fuels by promoting domestic renewable sources and increased efficiency of fuel consumption in cars. The climate action and renewable energy (CARE) package includes the following main policy documents
- Directive 2009/29/ec of the European parliament and of the Council amending directive 2003/87/ec so as to improve and extend the greenhouse gas emission allowance trading scheme of the community
- Directive 2009/31/ec of the European parliament and of the Council on the geological storage of carbon dioxide
- Directive 2009/28/ec of the European parliament and of the Council on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources
- Community guidelines on state aid for environmental protection (2008/c 82/01)
- Directive 2008/101/ec of the European parliament and of the Council amending directive 2003/87/ec so as to include aviation activities in the scheme for greenhouse gas Emission allowance trading within the community
- Regulation (ec) no 443/2009 of the European parliament and of the Council setting emission performance standards for new passenger cars as part of the community’s integrated approach to reduce CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles
Second Strategic Energy Review; COM(2008) 781 final (EC, 2008c): Strategic review on short, medium and long term targets on EU energy security. It is aimed to build up energy solidarity among Member States. In July 2009 there was a follow-up where new rules were elaborated to improve security of gas supplies in the framework of the internal gas market and to increase transparency of investments in infrastructure.
The EU Action Plan for Energy Efficiency (COM (2006)545 final) aims to boost the cost-effective and efficient use of energy in the EU. It is targeted to reduce energy consumption by 20% by 2020 and to reduce dependency on imported fuels. A revision of the Action Plan is scheduled for 2010 where binding national targets are to be considered.
No targets have been specified
Related policy documents
Directive 2008/101/ec of the European parliament and of the Council amending directive 2003/87/ec so as to include aviation activities in the scheme for greenhouse gas Emission allowance trading within the community
Community guidelines on state aid for environmental protection (2008/c 82/01)
Directive 2009/29/ec of the European parliament and of the Council amending directive 2003/87/ec so as to improve and extend the greenhouse gas emission allowance trading scheme of the community.
Directive 2009/31/ec of the European parliament and of the Council on the geological storage of carbon dioxide.
Action Plan for Energy Efficiency
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the Economic and Social Committee - Update of the nuclear illustrative programme in the context of the second strategic energy review. COM/2008/776 final
COM(2008) 781 final - Second Strategic Energy Review
DIRECTIVE 2009/28/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 23 April 2009 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources and amending and subsequently repealing Directives 2001/77/EC and 2003/30/EC
REGULATION (EC) No 443/2009 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL 443/2009
Regulation (ec) no 443/2009 of the European parliament and of the Council setting emission performance standards for new passenger cars as part of the community's integrated approach to reduce CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles.
Methodology for indicator calculation
Figure 1 - EU27 net imports by country of origin
The coding (used in the Eurostat New Cronos database) and specific components of the indicator are:
[Imports (by country of origin) - solid fuels - annual data for Hard Coal 2111, Patent Fuels 2112, Hard Coke 2121, Brown Coal (Lignite) 2212, Brown Coal Coke 2220, Brown Coal Briquettes 2230 and Peat 2310] + [Imports (by country of origin) - oil - annual data for Crude Oil & Feedstocks 3100 and All Petroleum Products 3200] + [Imports (by country of origin) - gas - annual data for natural gas 4100] minus Exports (by country of origin, excluding EU-27 countries) for same fuels
To convert to toe (based on Eurostat average conversion values for 2008 for EU27):
|Fuel type||Code||Import [Toe/tonne]||Export [Toe/tonne]|
|Brown Coal (Lignite)||2212||0.306
|Brown Coal Briquettes||2230||0.473
|Crude Oil & Feedstocks||3100||1.016||1.018|
|All Petroleum Products||3200||1.002||1.011|
Natural gas in TJ (Gross Calorific Value) * 0.9 (GCV to Net Calorific Value) * 23.884 toe/TJ
Gross inland energy consumption (GIEC) 100900 (tonnes of oil equivalent). Composed of 2000 Solid Fuels + 3000 Crude oil and Petroleum Products + 4000 Gas + 5100 Nuclear Energy + 5500 Renewable Energies + 7100 Industrial Wastes + 6000 Electrical Energy (imports) + 5200 Derived For the separate product indicators the numerators/denominators are, respectively: solid fuels, crude oil and petroleum products and gas
For the separate product indicators the numerators/denominators are, respectively: solid fuels, crude oil and petroleum products and gas
Figure 2 - MS net Extra-EU27 dependence on imports indicator
[ total imports by origin (of the product) from ‘World’ (All Countries of the World) minus the sum of imports by origin (of the same product) from other EU Member States ] MINUS [total exports by origin (of the product) from ‘World’ (All Countries of the World) minus the sum of exports by origin (of the same product) from other EU Member States.]
Gross inland energy consumption
I.e. net imports as a share of primary energy excluding trade with other EU Member States.
Figure 3 -Net imports of all fuels and CO2 emissions in EU-27 by fuel and origin of the fuel
Numerator = 100600 Net imports of 2000 Solid Fuels + 3000 Crude oil and Petroleum Products + 4000 Gas + 6000 Electrical Energy Denominator = 100900, Gross inland consumption
Imported emissions = total CO2 emissions for liquid, solid and gaseous fuels from EEA inventory data multiplied by share of net imports (3000 crude oil and petroleum products, 2000 solid fuels, 4000 gas, respectively) in GIEC for that fuel.
Domestic emissions = total emission by fuel minus imported emissions.
Emissions from Fugitives and Other fuels are assumed to be domestic only due to lack of comparable data on leakage rates. In relative terms, fugitive emissions in Russia currently represent about 18% of Russian total greenhouse gas emissions whereas it is less than 2% in the EU.
Methodology for gap filling
No methodology for gap filling has been specified. Probably this info has been added together with indicator calculation.
No methodology references available.
The estimate of imported/domestic CO2 emissions use an average EU-27 Implied Emission Factors (tCO2/TJ) for solid, liquid and gaseous fuels.
The IPCC believes that the uncertainty in CO2 emission estimates from fuel use in Europe is likely to be less than ± 5 %. Total GHG emission trends are likely to be more accurate than the absolute emission estimates for individual years. The IPCC suggests that the uncertainty in total GHG emission trends is ± 4 % to 5 %. Uncertainty estimates were calculated for the EU-15 for the first time in EEA (2005). The results suggest that uncertainties at EU-15 level are between ± 4 % and 8 % for total EU-15 greenhouse gas emissions. For energy related greenhouse gas emissions the results suggest uncertainties between ± 1 % (stationary combustion) and ± 11 % (fugitive emissions). For public electricity and heat production specifically, the uncertainty is estimated to be ± 3 %. For the new Member States and some other EEA countries, uncertainties are assumed to be higher than for the EU-15 Member States because of data gaps.
Indicator uncertainty (scenarios)
Scenario analysis always includes many uncertainties and the results should thus be interpreted with care.
- uncertainties related to future socioeconomic and other developments (e.g. GDP);
- uncertainties in the underlying statistical and empirical data (e.g. on future technology costs and performance);
- uncertainties in the representativeness of the indicator;
- uncertainties in the dynamic behaviour of the energy system and its translation into models;
- uncertainties in future fuel costs and the share of low carbon technologies in the future
Data sets uncertainty
Imports/exports represent all entries into/out of the national territory excluding transit quantities (notably via gas and oil pipelines). However, data on imports are generally taken from importers'/exporters’ declarations; accordingly, they may differ from the data collected by the customs authorities and those included in the foreign-trade statistics.
In the case of crude oil and petroleum products, imports represent the quantities delivered to the national territory and, in particular, those quantities:
(i) destined for treatment on behalf of foreign countries;
(ii) only imported on a temporary basis;
(iii) imported and deposited in uncleared bonded warehouses;
(iv) imported and placed in special warehouses on behalf of foreign countries;
(v) imported from regions and/or territories overseas under national sovereignty.
Simlarly, for exports those quantities:
(i) destined for treatment in other countries;
(ii) only exported on a temporary basis;
(iii) exported and deposited in uncleared bonded warehouses;
(iv) exported and placed in special warehouses in foreign countries;
(v) exported to regions and/or territories overseas under national sovereignity;
(vi) re-exported after treatment or transformation;
(vii) supplied to national or foreign troops stationed abroad (in so far as secrecy permits this).
Strengths and weaknesses (at data level)
Data have been traditionally compiled by Eurostat through the annual Joint Questionnaires, shared by Eurostat and the International Energy Agency, following a well established and harmonised methodology. Methodological information on the annual Joint Questionnaires and data compilation can be found in Eurostat's web page for metadata on energy statistics.
http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_SDDS/EN/nrg_quant_sm1.htm See also information related to the Energy Statistics Regulation http://www.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/file.jsp?id=5431232
CO2 emissions data is officially reported following agreed procedures. e.g. regarding source/sector split under the EU Monitoring Mechanism DECISION No 280/2004/EC.
No uncertainty has been specified
Air Emission data set for Indicators
provided by European Environment Agency (EEA)
Energy statistics (Eurostat)
provided by Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat)
Energy (Primary topic)
Typology: Efficiency indicator (Type C - Are we improving?)
- ENER 012
Contacts and ownership
EEA Contact InfoAnca-Diana Barbu
EEA Management Plan2009 2.9.1 (note: EEA internal system)
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe's environment.
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