The South Stream project is aimed at strengthening the European energy security. It is the key project in the diversification strategy for gas supply routes to the EU. The South Stream gas pipeline will ensure a direct connection between hydrocarbons suppliers and consumers thus raising significantly the energy supply security on the entire European continent.
Experts share the opinion that in the medium and long term gas demand will grow in the European Union. The countries which used to consume moderate amounts of gas for industrial purposes are likely to guide their economies towards its increased utilization, since coal, fuel oil and nuclear power are less environmentally-friendly if compared to natural gas. Regardless that indigenous production still satisfies the bulk of consumption in Europe today, it will steadily decrease in time. Europe will need more imported gas and, accordingly, new transmission capacities.
According to the consensus forecast by the world’s leading forecast centers, Europe’s annual demand for additional gas import may reach 80 billion cubic meters by 2020 and surpass 140 billion cubic meters by 2030.
Thus, the main issues of the European energy security are building up gas supplies and eliminating transit risks. These very criteria are fully met by Russia’s initiative related to the South Stream pipeline construction.
The major objective of the South Stream project is meeting Europe’s additional demand for natural gas, the most environmentally-friendly and secure fossil fuel. Natural gas will long remain a reliable foundation for the European energy sector, therefore, diversification of routes and implementation of joint projects to construct new offshore gas pipeline systems are vital elements of the current energy security architecture in Europe.