Energy production and imports
From Statistics Explained
- Data from August 2012. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database.
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 (54.1 %) of the EU-27’s gross inland energy consumption in 2010 came from imported sources.
Main statistical findings
Production of primary energy in the EU-27 totalled 830.9 million tonnes of oil equivalent (toe) in 2010. This marked the first upturn in production since 2001, with the volume of primary energy increasing by 17.2 million toe when compared with 2009. When viewed over a longer period, the production of primary energy in the EU-27 was 109.7 million toe lower in 2010 than it had been a decade earlier. The general downward trend of EU-27 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.
The highest level of primary energy production among the Member States was in the United Kingdom, with a 17.8 % share of the EU-27 total; this marked a considerable reduction when compared with a decade earlier (28.7 % of the EU-27 total in 2000). Otherwise, the largest producers of primary energy were France (16.2 %) and Germany (15.8 %), followed by the Netherlands (8.4 %) and Poland (8.1 %) – see Table 1. The United Kingdom experienced by far the largest reduction in its output of primary energy, with production falling by 122.2 million toe over the period from 2000 to 2010; the next largest decline was recorded in Poland (11.9 million toe). The largest expansions in the production of primary energy during the ten years to 2010 were registered in the Netherlands (12.4 million toe), France (5.0 million toe) and Sweden (3.1 million toe).
Primary energy production in the EU-27 in 2010 was spread across a range of different energy sources, the most important of which was nuclear energy (28.5 % of the total); the significance of nuclear fuel was particularly high in Belgium, France and Slovakia – where it accounted for more than half of the national production of primary energy. Around one fifth of the EU-27’s total production of primary energy was accounted for by renewable energy sources (20.1 %), solid fuels (19.6 %, largely coal) and natural gas (18.8 %), while crude oil (11.7 %) made up the remainder of the total (see Figure 1). As such, in 2010 the production of primary energy from renewable energy sources in the EU-27 surpassed for the first time that from natural gas and solid fuels, having surpassed crude oil production in 2006.
The growth of primary production from renewable energy sources exceeded that of all the other energy types, with particularly strong growth since 2002 (see Figure 2). Indeed, there appears to be something of a watershed since this date, as the production of renewables accelerated, rising by 70.9 % between 2002 and 2010. By contrast, the production levels for the other primary sources of energy generally fell between 2000 and 2010. The largest reductions in the production of primary energy were recorded for crude oil (-43.6 %), natural gas (-24.9 %) and solid fuels (-23.5 %), with a more modest fall of 3.0 % for nuclear energy.
The downturn in the primary production of hard coal, lignite, crude oil, natural gas and more recently nuclear energy has led to a situation where the EU is increasingly reliant on primary energy imports in order to satisfy demand. The EU-27’s imports of primary energy exceeded exports by some 952.3 million toe in 2010. The largest net importers of primary energy were generally the most populous Member States, with the exception of the United Kingdom and Poland (where indigenous reserves of oil/natural gas and coal remain). Since 2004 the only net exporter of primary energy among the EU Member States has been Denmark (see Table 2).
The origin of EU-27 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 hard coal (see Table 3). In 2010, some 34.5 % of the EU-27’s imports of crude oil were from Russia; this was the highest share recorded between 2002 and 2010 having fallen to a temporary low of 31.4 % in 2008. Russia became the principal supplier of hard coal in 2006, overtaking South Africa, having overtaken Australia in 2004 and Colombia in 2002; Russia’s share of EU-27 hard coal imports rose from 13.1 % in 2002 to 30.2 % by 2009, before falling somewhat in 2010 to 27.1 %. Despite this contraction, Russia remained the primary source of hard coal imports into the EU in 2010 and its share was well ahead of the next highest, recorded by Colombia (20.2 %). By contrast, Russia’s share of EU-27 imports of natural gas declined from 45.1 % to 31.8 % between 2003 and 2010, while Qatar’s share rose from less than 1 % to 8.6 %.
The security of the EU’s primary energy supplies may be threatened if a high proportion of imports are concentrated among relatively few partners. Close to three quarters (74.4 %) of the EU-27’s imports of natural gas in 2010 came from Russia, Norway or Algeria – as such there was a diversification of imports as in 2009 the same three countries accounted for 79.2 % of natural gas imports. A similar analysis shows that 58.5 % of EU-27 crude oil imports came from Russia, Norway and Libya, while 64.3 % 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 2002 and 2010. This was notably the case for crude oil imports from Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, or natural gas imports from Qatar and Libya.
EU-27 dependency on energy imports increased from less than 40 % of gross energy consumption in the 1980s to reach 54.1 % by 2010 (see Table 4). This latest figure marked a second slight decrease in the dependency rate, which had stood at a high of 56.3 % in 2008. The highest energy dependency rates in 2010 were recorded for crude oil (85.2 %) and for natural gas (62.4 %). The growth in the last decade (between 2000 and 2010) in the dependency on non-member countries for supplies of solid fuels (29.2 %) and natural gas (27.6 %) was faster than for crude oil (12.7 %), which was already at a high level. Since 2003, the EU-27’s net imports of energy have been greater than its primary production; in other words, more than half of the EU-27’s gross inland energy consumption was supplied by net imports.
As it was a net exporter, Denmark was the only EU-27 Member State in 2010 with a negative dependency rate (see Figure 3). Among the other Member States, the lowest dependency rates were recorded by Estonia, Romania, the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom (the only other countries to report dependency rates below 30 %); meanwhile, Cyprus, Malta and Luxembourg 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-27’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 – for example, between 6 and 20 January 2009, gas flows from Russia via Ukraine were interrupted.
The European Commission adopted its second strategic energy review in November 2008. This addressed how the EU could reduce its dependency on imported energy, thereby improving its security of supply, as well as reducing its emissions of greenhouse gases. The review encouraged energy solidarity among Member States, proposed an action plan to secure sustainable energy supplies, and adopted a package of energy efficiency proposals aimed at making energy savings in key areas, such as buildings and energy-using products.
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 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.
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 final).
In November 2010, an initiative titled ‘Energy 2020 a strategy for competitive, sustainable and secure energy’ (COM(2010) 639 final) was adopted by the European Commission. This strategy defines the energy priorities for a period of ten years and sets the actions to 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.
The same month the European Commission adopted an initiative titled ‘Energy infrastructure priorities for 2020 and beyond - a blueprint for an integrated European energy network’ (COM(2010) 677 final). This defines EU priority corridors for the transport of electricity, gas and oil. A toolbox is also proposed in order to facilitate a timely implementation of these priority infrastructures.
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, the south stream (between Russia and the EU via the Black Sea) scheduled to be completed by 2015 and Nabucco (connecting the Caspian region and Middle East to the EU) scheduled to be operational by 2017.
- Electricity production, consumption and market overview
- Energy price statistics
- Natural gas market indicators
- Renewable energy statistics
- Sustainable development - climate change and energy
Further Eurostat information
- Energy, see:
- Energy Statistics - quantities (t_nrg_quant)
- Total production of primary energy (ten00076)
- Primary production of coal and lignite (ten00077)
- Primary production of crude oil (ten00078)
- Primary production of natural gas (ten00079)
- Primary production of nuclear energy (ten00080)
- Primary production of renewable energy (ten00081)
- Renewable energy primary production: biomass, hydro, geothermal, wind and solar energy (ten00082)
- Net imports of primary energy (ten00083)
- Net imports of crude oil and petroleum products (ten00084)
- Net imports of natural gas (ten00085)
- Gross inland consumption of primary energy (ten00086)
- Gross inland energy consumption, by fuel (tsdcc320)
- Total gross electricity generation (ten00087)
- Electricity generation by origin: hard coal (ten00088)
- Electricity generation by origin: petroleum products (ten00089)
- Electricity generation by origin: natural gas (ten00090)
- Electricity generation by origin: nuclear (ten00091)
- Electricity generation by origin: hydroelectricity (ten00092)
- Electricity generation by origin: wind (ten00093)
- Energy dependency (tsdcc310)
- Combined heat and power generation (tsien030)
- Share of biofuels in fuel consumption of transport (tsdcc340)
- Energy, see:
- Energy Statistics - quantities (nrg_quant)
- Energy Statistics - supply, transformation, consumption (nrg_10)
- Energy statistics - imports (by country of origin) (nrg_12)
- Energy Statistics - exports (by country of destination) (nrg_13)
Methodology / Metadata
- Energy Statistics - quantities (ESMS metadata file - nrg_quant_esms)
Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)