Net Energy Import Dependency (ENER 012) - Assessment published Apr 2012
Energy (Primary topic)
Typology: Efficiency indicator (Type C - Are we improving?)
- ENER 012
Key policy question: Is fossil fuel import dependency decreasing in Europe?
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 54.2 % in 2005 to 55.5% in 2009. 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. In 2009, 11.7% of net imports were solid fuels, 59.8% were oil and 28.5% were gas.
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
EU27 Member State net (Extra-EU27) imports of natural gas, oil and solid fuels as a % of total Gross Inland Energy Consumption, 2009
Note: EU27 Member State net (Extra-EU27) imports of natural gas, oil and solid fuels as a % of total Gross Inland Energy Consumption, 2009
EU27 Member State primary production of natural gas, oil and solid fuels as a % of total Gross Inland Energy Consumption, 2009
Note: EU27 Member State primary production of natural gas, oil and solid fuels as a % of total Gross Inland Energy Consumption, 2009
Net imports of all fossil fuels and CO2 emissions in EU-27 by fuel and origin of the fuel, 2009
Note: Net imports of all fossil fuels and CO2 emissions in EU-27 by fuel and origin of the fuel, 2009
Sources of uranium delivered to EU-27 utilities in 2009
Note: Sources of uranium delivered to EU-27 utilities in 2009
Euratom, 2009, Annual report 2009.
- 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 54.2% in 2005 (as a share of total gross inland energy consumption) to 55.5 % in 2009 (see Figure 1, 54.1% excluding the net imports of petroleum products). Of these imports, 20.9% originate from Russia, 10.2% from Norway and 3.5% and 3.0% from Libya and Algeria respectively. Oil imports are highest and accounted for 59.8% of total net fossil fuel imports and 89.9% of oil-based gross inland consumption in 2009, followed by natural gas which accounted for 28.5% of total fossil fuel import and 64.2% of gas-based gross inland consumption, and solid fuels with 11.7% of total fossil fuel import and 43.6% 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 the EU27. In 2009, 300.8 Mtoe petroleum products were imported in EU27 countries, equivalent to 48.3% of total oil-based gross inland consumption. 71.5% of this imported volume stayed within EU27 countries. In the same year, 276.5 Mtoe was exported, of which 75.9% was exported to other EU27 countries. The resulting net import of petroleum products in EU27 from countries outside EU27 was equivalent to 24.2 Mtoe in 2009.
- In addition to fossil fuels, Europe imports 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 2009, 22% of uranium delivered to utilities in EU27 originated from Australia, 20% from Russia and 19% from Canada.
- Biomass imports in EU27 are small. In 2009, net imports as share of total primary biomass supply amounted to 3.9% and 6.4 % of total imports (IEA, 2010).
- Russia remains the largest single energy exporter of energy commodities to the EU in 2009, having supplied 20.9% of EU’s total gross inland energy consumption and 33% of total import of fossil fuels which is the same as in 2005 (see Figure1).
- The net dependence on fuel imports varies significantly between Member States as illustrated by Figure 2. 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 114% in 2009 (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.
Specific policy question: What are the trends and the driving forces behind the gas import dependency?
- Natural gas imports accounted for 64.2% of total EU’s gas-based gross inland consumption in 2009, up from 57.7% in 2005. 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 Directive 2009/29/EC amending Directive 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 2009, imported gas (from outside the EU27) came mainly from Russia (34%) and Norway (31%).
- In 2009, the share of LNG in imported natural gas amounted to 15.4% 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). Netherlands, Finland and the UK are the biggest LNG importers in 2009, accounting for 98.6% of total LNG imports in EU27. A larger share of LNG in the European energy mix may reduce the environmental pressures coming from 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 Iran and Algeria are amongst the main suppliers of LNG EUROSTAT (2011).
Specific policy question: What are the trends and the driving forces behind the solid fuels import dependency?
The share of solid fuel imports in the EU’s gross inland consumption of solid fuels was 43.6% in 2009, up from 40.7% in 2005. In 2009, 75.7% of this import is hard coal, 20.5% for hard coke and 2.6% for 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 27.3% in 1990 to 15.8% in 2009 due to increasing use of natural gas, mainly in power generation and space heating (see also Figure 3 for domestic production).
Specific policy question: What are the trends and the driving forces behind the oil and oil products import dependency?
- Oil imports in 2009 represented 89.9% of EU’s oil-based gross inland consumption, up from 88.6% in 2005. The higher absolute share of oil products reflects limited EU domestic production (see Figure 3), rising transport demand and the current limited use of other energy sources in the transport sector.
- Transport energy consumption in EEA member countries increased by 32 % between 1990 and 2009 and by 0.16% between 2005 and 2009 (see also ENER 16 and TERM 01). However, between 2008 and 2009 energy consumption in this sector decreased for the first time since 1990. Road transport, consuming around 73 % of transport energy consumption is the largest consumer in 2009.
Air Emission data set for Indicators
provided by European Environment Agency (EEA)
Energy statistics (Eurostat)
provided by Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat)
More information about this indicator
See this indicator specification for more details.
Contacts and ownership
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EEA Management Plan2011 2.8.1 (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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