Europe Preview: Facing Up to the Energy Crisis
On Monday, CNBC will focus on the impact of rising energy costs on Europe’s diverse economies. This much is clear: European nation states are focusing on different ways of securing energy supplies for the long-term through a mix of politics and innovation.
As the dollar has fallen, the euro zone has been insulated to some extent from soaring crude prices by the strength of the single currency. The Nymex is 104 percent higher over the last 12 months, but the euro has risen by some 17 percent against the dollar, meaning fuel costs in absolute terms have risen faster on the other side of the Atlantic. But the costs of oil, electricity and gas have jumped higher, and European consumers and businesses are facing up to a new, more expensive world.
With energy reserves within the EU limited, nuclear and alternative energy are playing an increasingly important role in providing electricity for the continent. Some of the world’s most innovative companies are based here: Germany, Denmark and Spain lead the way in alternative energy, France is the undisputed nuclear champion, and European oil companies like Shell , BP and Total are at the forefront of high-cost liquefied natural gas projects.
But Europe is highly dependent on foreign energy supplies. North Africa and the Middle East are major suppliers, but all of Europe knows Russia has to be the long-term source of gas and oil, given its huge reserves. The problem is that Europe does not trust the Kremlin’s intentions ever since it turned the gas off to the Ukraine after the Orange Revolution. Still, Russia needs to sell its gas and oil to Europe just as much as Europe needs to buy.
On Monday, CNBC reporters will report on the state of the energy industry in Germany, France, Italy, Britain and Belgium, and will be live from Europe’s biggest oil trading hub in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Germany is a market leader in wind and solar energy, and Patricia Szarvas will be looking at how companies plan to lead the world in this area and help wean Germany off Russian gas supplies.
France generates 80 percent of its electricity from nuclear power, and with EdF eyeing assets in the UK, it appears Nicolas Sarkozy has earmarked the industry as a national champion. Stephane Pedrazzi reports from Paris.
Italy is the most oil-dependent of European nations and has signed an agreement with Russia’s Gazprom to ensure future gas supplies. It gave up control of part of its grid in return. Claudia Pensotti and Andrea Cabrini report from Milan.
The UK’s North Sea oil reserves are running out, and the UK must spend billions to boost nuclear and alternative energy supplies. Anna Martin and Steve Sedgwick report on the problems facing the country, and how its engineers could leave to work on oil projects across the world.
From Brussels, Carolina Cimenti will be looking at why Europe’s politicians continually fail to create a single energy policy and observing their battle to liberalize the energy markets.
And Martin Baccardax will be at Europe’s main oil trading point in Rotterdam, asking if there's really is a lack of supply in the physical market.
Make sure you join CNBC Europe on Monday, wherever you are in the world.