Just two of EU’s top 10 oil suppliers are European

The European Union relies on foreign companies to supply 80% of its oil imports, according to a new study on the continent’s oil dependency. Russian firms supply more than one-third (36%) of imported crude, and just two of the top 10 oil suppliers to the EU are European – Shell and Norway’s Statoil.

Russian-owned Rosneft and Lukoil benefited most from the EU’s foreign oil dependency, supplying 20% and 12% respectively, while Statoil (Norway) and Saudi Aramco provided another 20%.

The study, by Cambridge Econometrics for T&E, also found that most of Europe’s imported oil is supplied from unstable countries. More than two-fifths of the oil was exported from Middle Eastern countries such as Algeria, Iraq, Libya, and Angola, former Soviet states such as Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, and Nigeria and Angola in Africa. A further 30% was from Russia.

T&E’s oil policy officer Laura Buffet said: ‘Europe’s profligate use of oil is filling the pockets of big oil companies in unstable countries including Russia and Libya. Transport’s thirst for imported oil and diesel costs every citizen around €300 a year – money that flows out of the European economy.’

Europe’s dependence on diesel imports doubled between 2001 and 2014 to €35 billion, coinciding with a sharp increase in dependence on crude imports. However, over the same period domestic production and crude oil imports from countries with a very low risk of geopolitical instability, such as Norway, have decreased – jeopardising Europe’s energy insecurity.

Cambridge Econometrics argues that decarbonising European transport, which makes up two-thirds of the demand for final petroleum products in Europe, would be the best way forward. ‘Reducing the EU’s energy dependency and decarbonising transport are two sides of the same coin,’ the study says. “Implementing a strong decarbonisation strategy for transport will not only permit the EU to address energy insecurity it will also being climate, environmental and economic benefits for the long-term.’

A shift to electric vehicles would lead to a 1% increase in EU GDP, create up to 2 million new jobs and reduce emissions from cars and vans 83% by 2050, according to the study.

T&E called on the European Commission to implement its ambitious agenda to decarbonise road transport, but also to take measures to cut shipping and aviation emissions. Laura Buffet added: ‘Environmental protection and energy security are two sides of the same same coin. Ambitious plans to decarbonise transport will slash oil demand and ensure our money stays here, driving innovation, creating jobs and reducing energy insecurity. This is a win-win for Europe.’