International energy markets have undergone a complex change as a result of technological, climate, geopolitical and economic factors that exert a direct influence on European and national energy markets.
Romania must adapt to the coming together of these factors and the resulting uncertainty they will inevitably create on international markets. Similarly, geopolitical developments will influence even well established strategic partnerships in ways that have a significant impact on energy security, investments, commerce and technology.
Energy security is the capacity of a country to ensure its nation's energy supply without interruption and at affordable prices. Currently, the EU imports around 53% of the energy it consumes, including crude oil (90%), natural gas (66%), coal and related solid fuels (42%) and nuclear materials (40%), making it the largest energy importer in the world at an annual cost of approximately EUR 400 billion. Energy dependency fosters vulnerability, for example six EU member states depend on Russia for the supply of their entire natural gas imports and three of these use natural gas to satisfy over one quarter of their total energy needs.
Romania has an energy security risk lower than the OECD average and significantly lower than its neighbours. However, current international energy markets are quite volatile and technological advancements may negatively effect decisions about energy sources. Climate and environmental policies that focus on the reduction of greenhouse gases and target clean energy, also influence consumption patterns and investment policies. For example, an abrupt decrease in oil prices due to oil shale production has produced a significant effect on electricity and natural gas prices that, in turn, has led to a reduction in the ability of conventional energy producers to invest in strategically important projects. It has also affected the profitability of renewable energy source investments.
The EU is an important source of funding for green energy projects and projects for the connection of energy markets. Such funding packages are often granted to projects that affect, and are developed by, at least two member states. Through the Connecting Europe Facility, Romania has already benefited from significant European funding for two major projects: (i) a EUR 179 million grant for the first phase of the construction of a pipeline of 528 km involving Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria (BRUA), which is an essential component in the energy security of Southeast and Central Europe. The pipeline provides Europe with access to Caspian Sea gas, and in the future Black Sea gas; and (ii) a financing agreement of EUR 19 million signed in November 2017 between The Innovation and Networks Executive Agency and the NEXT-E Group, which includes oil and gas companies and vehicle manufacturers, the purpose of which is to establish a network of charging stations for electric cars across the TEN-T.