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Energy Security


Energy security currently lacks a common definition as well as a methodology for its evaluation. Although its meaning varies between different countries and organisations, in general it is used to signify some of the following:

  • Reliability of supply;
  • Self-sufficiency;
  • Security of infrastructure;
  • Stability and diversity of suppliers;
  • Diversity of energy carriers.

Energy security is being discussed in various international organisations and forums, of which the most important for Estonia is the common European Union Energy Policy. For instance, the 2nd Strategic Energy Review to be presented by the European Commission in October 2008 will mainly focus on the question of energy security. In addition, the energy security of both the Member States and the EU as a whole is being influenced by the internal market and the climate and energy legislative packages currently under discussion. From the Estonian point of view, these discussions cannot take place without including the issue of the dossiers’ impact on energy security.

Estonia’s concerns in energy security are mostly associated with security-related aspects such as the lack of relevant interconnections and the security and diversity of energy supplies (i.e. gas, oil and electricity). Due to Estonia’s geographic position and the existing infrastructure, which reflects Estonia’s history, the issues of energy security that Estonia faces are different than those of most Member States, and the solutions are likewise more difficult. Because of this, a common definition of energy security, understood by all Member States and the Commission, should be adopted, encompassing also the evaluation of the vulnerability of energy systems, the security of electricity supplies, and the necessity of interconnections between Member States and also with third countries. This would enable all parties to conduct adequate comparative overviews of energy security in the EU Member States.

Communication with third countries plays an important part in increasing readiness for and preventing disruptions in energy supply. The early warning mechanism in place between the EU and Russia is a positive example that could be extended to all major supply and transit countries.

Long-term contracts are a viable option for enhancing the reliability of supplies. The European Commission should have a greater role in this process and thereby collectively move towards community-based negotiations instead of bilateral agreements.

Estonia would like to witness an increase in the transparency of energy-related agreements with third countries. Therefore it should be mandatory for the Member States to notify both the Commission and other Member States about such agreements ex-ante, together with both the content of the agreements and their possible implications to other Member States.

In addition to the European Union, both NATO and the International Energy Agency (IEA) have defined their role in energy security. NATO is mostly concerned with the physical security of critical infrastructure, i.e. defending the critical energy infrastructure of its Member States upon request. Observing and evaluating general risks plus development and crisis management are also of interest to NATO. The IEA, which Estonia wishes to join after becoming a part of the OECD, is the most prominent organisation dealing with energy analysis and emergency response mechanisms. Furthermore, energy security has come onto the agenda of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and various national energy agencies.

Further Reading:

European Commission
Proposals for the French Presidency on the topic of energy security (PDF)

Last updated: 21 December 2011

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