Energy production and imports
- Data extracted in May 2015. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: May 2016.
The dependency of the European Union (EU) on energy imports, particularly of oil and more recently of gas, forms the backdrop for policy concerns relating to the security of energy supplies. This article looks at the production of primary energy in the EU and, as a result of the shortfall between production and consumption, the EU’s increasing dependency on energy imports from non-member countries. Indeed, more than half (53.2 %) of the EU-28’s gross inland energy consumption in 2013 came from imported sources.
- 1 Main statistical findings
- 2 Data sources and availability
- 3 Context
- 4 See also
- 5 Further Eurostat information
- 6 External links
Main statistical findings
Production of primary energy in the EU-28 totalled 790 million tonnes of oil equivalent (toe) in 2013. This continued the generally downward development observed in recent years, with 2010 the main exception as production rebounded after a relatively strong fall in 2009 that coincided with the financial and economic crisis. When viewed over a longer period, the production of primary energy in the EU-28 was 15.4 % lower in 2013 than it had been a decade earlier. The general downward development of EU-28 primary energy production may, at least in part, be attributed to supplies of raw materials becoming exhausted and / or producers considering the exploitation of limited resources uneconomical.
In 2013, the highest level of primary energy production among the EU Member States was in France, with a 17.1 % share of the EU-28 total, followed by Germany (15.3 %) and the United Kingdom (13.9 %). Compared with a decade earlier the main change was the fall in the share of the United Kingdom, down from 26.2 % — see Table 1. The only other Member States whose shares fell over this period were Denmark (-0.9 percentage points) and Lithuania (-0.4 percentage points). In absolute terms, the largest expansions in the production of primary energy during the 10 years to 2013 were registered in the Netherlands (up 11.0 million toe), Italy (9.1 million toe) and Sweden (4.3 million toe). By contrast, the production of primary energy in the United Kingdom fell by 135.4 million toe, while Germany (-14.3 million toe) and Denmark (-11.6 million toe) were the only other EU Member States to report double-digit contractions in their levels of production.
Primary energy production in the EU-28 in 2013 was spread across a range of different energy sources, the most important of which in terms of the size of its contribution was nuclear energy (28.7 % of the total). The significance of nuclear energy was particularly high in France where it accounted for more than four fifths of the national production of primary energy, while in Belgium this share was three quarters and in Slovakia it was close to two thirds; elsewhere the share was less than half, with no contribution from nuclear energy in 14 of the EU Member States. Close to one quarter of the EU-28’s total production of primary energy was accounted for by renewable energy sources (24.3 %), while the share for solid fuels (19.7 %, largely coal) was just below one fifth and the share for natural gas was somewhat lower (16.7 %). Crude oil (9.1 %) was the only other major source of primary energy production (see Figure 1).
The growth of primary production from renewable energy sources exceeded that of all the other energy types; this growth was relatively constant most years from 2003 to 2013, with a slight dip in 2011 (see Figure 2). Over this 10-year period the production of renewables increased in total by 88.4 %. By contrast, the production levels for the other primary sources of energy generally fell over this period, the largest reductions being recorded for crude oil (-54.0 %), natural gas (-34.6 %) and solid fuels (-24.9 %), with a more modest fall of 12.0 % for nuclear energy.
The downturn in the primary production of hard coal, lignite, crude oil, natural gas and more recently nuclear energy led to a situation where the EU was increasingly reliant on primary energy imports in order to satisfy demand, although this situation stabilised in the aftermath of the financial and economic crisis. The EU-28’s imports of primary energy exceeded exports by some 909 million toe in 2013. The largest net importers of primary energy were generally the most populous EU Member States, with the exception of Poland (where indigenous reserves of coal remain). Since 2004, Denmark had been the only net exporter of primary energy among the Member States, but in 2013 Danish energy imports exceeded exports such that there were no longer any EU Member States that were net exporters of energy (see Table 2). Relative to population size, the largest net importers in 2013 were Luxembourg, Malta and Belgium.
The origin of EU-28 energy imports has changed somewhat in recent years, as Russia has maintained its position as the main supplier of crude oil and natural gas and emerged as the leading supplier of solid fuels (see Table 3). In 2013, some 33.5 % of the EU-28’s imports of crude oil were from Russia, slightly below the shares recorded between 2010 and 2012. Russia became the principal supplier of solid fuels in 2006, overtaking South Africa, having overtaken Australia in 2004 and Colombia in 2002. Russia’s share of EU-28 solid fuels imports rose from 13.2 % in 2003 to 30.0 % by 2009, before falling somewhat to 25.9 % by 2012 and rebounding to 28.8 % in 2013. By contrast, Russia’s share of EU-28 imports of natural gas declined from 44.1 % to 29.5 % between 2003 and 2010, but this development was reversed with increases thereafter leading to a share of 39.0 % in 2013. Throughout the 10 years shown in Table 3, Norway remained the second largest supplier of EU imports of crude oil and natural gas.
The security of the EU’s primary energy supplies may be threatened if a high proportion of imports are concentrated among relatively few partners. More than two thirds (69.1 %) of the EU-28’s imports of natural gas in 2013 came from Russia or Norway— as such there was a greater concentration of imports than in the previous two years as the same two countries accounted for 59.6 % of natural gas imports in 2011 and 63.7 % in 2012. A similar analysis shows that 53.8 % of EU-28 crude oil imports came from Russia, Norway and Saudi Arabia in 2013, while 73.1 % of hard coal imports were from Russia, Colombia and the United States. Although their import volumes remain relatively small, there was some evidence of new partner countries emerging between 2003 and 2013. This was notably the case for crude oil imports from Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Iraq, or natural gas imports from Qatar and Libya.
EU-28 dependency on energy imports increased from less than 40 % of gross energy consumption in the 1980s to reach 53.2 % by 2013 (see Table 4). This latest figure marked a slight decrease in the dependency rate, which had stood as high as 54.7 % in 2008. The highest energy dependency rates in 2013 were recorded for crude oil (88.4 %) and for natural gas (65.3 %). In the last decade (between 2003 and 2013), the EU’s dependency on non-member countries for supplies of natural gas grew 13.3 percentage points, faster than the growth in dependency for crude oil (9.9 percentage points) and solid fuels (9.2 percentage points). Since 2004, the EU-28’s net imports of energy have been greater than its primary production; in other words, more than half of the EU-28’s gross inland energy consumption was supplied by net imports.
As it was no longer a net exporter, Denmark’s energy dependency rate turned positive in 2013, like all of the other EU Member States (see Figure 3). The lowest energy dependency rates were recorded for Estonia, Denmark, Romania, Poland, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic (the only other Member States to report dependency rates below 30.0 %). Malta, Luxembourg and Cyprus were (almost) entirely dependent on primary energy imports.
Data sources and availability
Energy commodities extracted or captured directly from natural resources are called primary energy sources, while energy commodities which are produced from primary energy sources in transformation plants are called derived products. Primary energy production covers the national production of primary energy sources and takes place when natural resources are exploited, for example, in coal mines, crude oil fields, hydropower plants, or in the fabrication of biofuels. Whenever consumption exceeds primary production, the shortfall needs to be accounted for by imports of primary or derived products.
The heat produced in a reactor as a result of nuclear fission is regarded as primary production of nuclear heat, alternatively referred to as nuclear energy. It is calculated either on the basis of the actual heat produced or on the basis of reported gross electricity generation and the thermal efficiency of the nuclear plant. Primary production of coal and lignite consists of quantities of fuels extracted or produced, calculated after any operation for the removal of inert matter.
Transformation of energy from one form to another, such as electricity or heat generation from thermal power plants, or coke production from coke ovens is not considered as primary production.
Net imports are calculated as the quantity of imports minus the equivalent quantity of exports. Imports represent all entries into the national territory excluding transit quantities (notably via gas and oil pipelines); exports similarly cover all quantities exported from the national territory.
More than half of the EU-28’s energy comes from countries outside the EU and this proportion has been generally rising over the last decade. Much of this energy comes from Russia, whose disputes with transit countries have threatened to disrupt supplies in recent years. Concerns about the security of supply from Russia have been further heightened by the conflict in Ukraine.
In response to the Russian-Ukrainian gas crisis of January 2009, the legislative framework concerning the security of supplies was reviewed and in September 2009 the Council of the European Union adopted Directive 2009/119/EC imposing an obligation on EU Member States to maintain minimum stocks of crude oil and / or petroleum products. These measures for oil and gas markets were designed to ensure that all parties take effective action to prevent and mitigate the consequences of potential disruptions to supplies, while also creating mechanisms for Member States to work together to deal effectively with any major oil or gas disruptions which might arise; a coordination mechanism was set up so that Member States can react uniformly and immediately in emergency cases.
In November 2010, an initiative titled ‘Energy 2020 a strategy for competitive, sustainable and secure energy’ (COM(2010) 639) was adopted by the European Commission. This strategy defines energy priorities for a period of 10 years and puts forward actions that may be taken in order to tackle a variety of challenges, including achieving a market with competitive prices and secure supplies, boosting technological leadership, and effectively negotiating with international partners. One of the priorities is to pursue good relations with the EU’s external suppliers of energy and energy transit countries. Through the Energy Community (established in October 2005), the EU also works to integrate neighbouring countries into its internal energy market. A broad mix of energy sources and diversity in suppliers, transport routes and transport mechanisms may each play an important role in securing energy supplies. Building reliable partnerships with supplier, transit and consumer countries is seen as a way to reduce the risks associated with the EU’s energy dependency and in September 2011 the European Commission adopted a Communication titled ‘The EU energy policy: engaging with partners beyond our borders’ (COM(2011) 539).
There are a number of ongoing initiatives to develop gas pipelines between Europe and its eastern and southern neighbours. These include the Nord Stream (between Russia and the EU via the Baltic Sea) which became operational in November 2011 and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (connecting Turkey to Italy through Greece and Albania to bring gas from the Caspian Sea region to the EU).
In response to continuing concerns about the EU’s dependency on energy imports, in May 2014 the European Commission released its Energy Security Strategy (COM(2014) 330) which aims to ensure a stable and abundant supply of energy. As well as short-term measures looking at the impact of a halt to Russian gas imports or a disruption of imports through the Ukraine, the strategy addressed long-term security of supply challenges and proposed actions in five areas, including: increasing energy production in the EU and diversifying supplier countries and routes, and speaking with one voice in external energy policy.
- Consumption of energy
- Electricity production, consumption and market overview
- Energy statistics introduced
- Energy price statistics
- Natural gas market indicators
- Renewable energy statistics
- Sustainable development - climate change and energy
- The EU in the world - energy
Further Eurostat information
- Energy balance sheets — 2011-2012
- Energy balance sheets — 2010-2011
- Energy, transport and environment indicators — 2014 edition
- Energy, transport and environment indicators — 2013 edition
- Energy, transport and environment indicators — 2012 edition
- Panorama of energy: energy statistics to support EU policies and solutions
- Statistical analysis of EU trade in energy products, with focus on trade with the Russian Federation
- Energy (t_nrg), see:
- Energy statistics - quantities (t_nrg_quant)
- Energy (nrg), see:
- Energy statistics - quantities, annual data (nrg_quant)
- Energy statistics - supply, transformation and consumption (nrg_10)
- Energy statistics - imports (nrg_12)
- Energy statistics - exports (nrg_13)
Methodology / Metadata
- Energy statistics — supply, transformation and consumption (ESMS metadata file — nrg_10_esms)
- Energy Statistics Manual
Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)
- Europe's Energy Portal
- European Commission — Directorate-General for Energy — Security of supply
- International Energy Agency
- OECD–NEA (Nuclear Energy Agency)