Baker Institute’s Collins: Russia’s use of the ‘energy weapon’ against Western European countries a strategic threat

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Jeff Falk
713-348-6775
jfalk@rice.edu  

Baker Institute’s Collins: Russia’s use of the ‘energy weapon’ against Western European countries a strategic threat

HOUSTON – (Jan. 23, 2018) – Many European countries rely heavily on Russia for energy, especially natural gas. However, Moscow has used energy as an instrument of coercive diplomacy since the early 1990s, and these countries face potential exposure to Russian gas price and supply manipulation, according to an expert at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.

Credit: 123RF.com/Rice University

Gabriel Collins, the Baker Botts Fellow in Energy and Environmental Regulatory Affairs at the institute, recently discussed Russia’s use of energy to influence — and even coerce — European countries on the institute’s new “Policy Matters” podcast. He is available to speak with media about the issue.

Although it has not been widely successful to date in the former Soviet zone, Russia’s use of the “energy weapon” against Western European countries in various forms still constitutes a strategic threat that warrants close attention from policymakers in Washington and throughout Europe, Collins said.

“The current dataset lacks information on the most critical potential scenario for energy security planners and analysts: Namely, what could happen if Russia targeted a larger country that, militarily and economically speaking, is systemically important to Europe?” Collins said. “Ukraine and Georgia did not rise to this level, but Germany, which is poised to dramatically increase its intake of Russian gas through a direct bilateral linkage, does. In such cases, the target country’s economic importance and leadership role in Europe would potentially magnify the impact of ‘tactical’ concessions and confer strategic importance on them.”

For more about Collins’ research on this issue, see his recent issue brief, “Russia’s Use of the ‘Energy Weapon’ in Europe.”

Collins, a member of the institute’s Center for Energy Studies, conducts a range of globally focused commodity market, energy, water and environmental research. His current research focuses on oilfield water issues, groundwater valuation in Texas, evolutions in the global gasoline market, shifts in China’s domestic oil consumption structure, Texas water governance and the food-water-energy nexus.

To schedule an interview with Collins, contact Jeff Falk, associate director of national media relations at Rice, at jfalk@rice.edu or 713-348-6775. The Baker Institute has a radio and television studio available.

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Related materials:

Collins bio: www.bakerinstitute.org/experts/gabe-collins.

Follow the Baker Institute via Twitter @BakerInstitute.

Follow the Baker Institute’s Center for Energy Studies via Twitter @CES_Baker_Inst.

Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews.

Founded in 1993, Rice University’s Baker Institute ranks among the top five university-affiliated think tanks in the world. As a premier nonpartisan think tank, the institute conducts research on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy. The institute’s strong track record of achievement reflects the work of its endowed fellows, Rice University faculty scholars and staff, coupled with its outreach to the Rice student body through fellow-taught classes — including a public policy course — and student leadership and internship programs. Learn more about the institute at www.bakerinstitute.org or on the institute’s blog, http://blogs.chron.com/bakerblog.

About Jeff Falk

Jeff Falk is associate director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.