Energy policy of Russia

The Energy policy of Russia is contained in an Energy Strategy document, which sets out policy for the period up to 2020. In 2000, the Russian government approved the main provisions of the Russian energy strategy to 2020, and in 2003 the new Russian energy strategy was confirmed by the government. The Energy Strategy document outlines several main priorities: an increase in energy efficiency, reduced impact on environment, sustainable development, energy development and technological development, as well as an improved effectiveness and competitiveness.

Russia, one of the world's two energy superpowers, is rich in natural energy resources. It has the largest known natural gas reserves of any state on earth, along with the second largest coal reserves, and the eighth largest oil reserves. Russia is the world fourth largest electricity producer after the USA, China, and Japan. Russia is the world’s leading net energy exporter, and a major supplier to the European Union.

Renewable energy in Russia is largely undeveloped although there is considerable potential for renewable energy use. Geothermal energy, which is used for heating and electricity production in some regions of the Northern Caucasus, and the Far East, is the most developed renewable energy source in Russia.

On July 2008 Russia's president signed a law allowing the government to allocate strategic oil and gas deposits on the continental shelf without auctions.


The idea of a Russian national energy policy was approved by the government of Russia in 1992. At the same time government decided to develop the Energy Strategy of Russia. For this purpose the Interagency Commission was established.

In December 1994, the Energy Strategy of Russia (Major Provisions) was approved by the government, followed by the presidential decree from 7 May 1995 confirming the first post-Soviet Russian energy strategy On the Main Directions of Energy Policy and Restructuring of the Fuel and Energy Industry of the Russian Federation for the Period up to the Year 2010, and the governmental decision from the 13 October 1995 approving the Main provisions for the Energy Strategy of the Russian Federation.

The strategy was changed under the presidency of Vladimir Putin. On 23 November 2000, the Russian government approved main provisions of the Russian energy strategy to 2020. On 28 May 2002, the Russian Ministry of Energy gave an elaboration on the main provisions. Based on these documents, the new Russian energy strategy up to 2020 was approved on 23 May 2003 and confirmed by the government on 28 August 2003.

The main objective of Russian energy strategy is defined to be determination of the ways of reaching a new quality of fuel and energy mix, the growth of competitive ability of its production and services on the world market. For this purpose the long-term energy policy should concentrate on energy safety, energy effectiveness, budget effectiveness and ecological energy security.

The energy strategy document defines as the main priority of Russian energy strategy an increase in energy efficiency (meaning decreasing of energy intensity in production and energy supply expenditures), reducing the impact on environment, sustainable development, energy development and technological development, as well as an improvement of effectiveness and competitiveness.

Primary energy sources

Russia is rich in energy resources. Russia has the largest known natural gas reserves of any state on earth, along with the second largest coal reserves, and the eighth largest oil reserves. This is 32% of the world proven natural gas reserves (23% of the probable reserves), 12% of the proven oil reserves (42% of the probable reserves), 10% of the explored coal reserves (14% of the estimated reserves) and 8% of the proven uranium reserves.

Natural gas

In recent years Russia has identified the gas sector as being of key strategic importance. The share of natural gas as a primary energy source is remarkably high compared to the rest of world. Russia has the world biggest natural gas reserves, mainly owned and operated by the Russian monopoly Gazprom, which produces 94% of Russia's natural gas production. In global context Gazprom holds 25% of the world's known gas reserves and produces of 16% of global output. In 2006, Russia was the world biggest natural gas producer with 22.0% of global natural gas production and also the biggest exporter with 22.9% of global natural gas export.

Gazprom has a monopoly for the natural gas pipelines and has exclusive right to export natural gas, granted by the Federal Law "On Gas Export", which came into force on 20 July2006. Gazprom also has control over all gas pipelines leading out of Central Asia, and thus controls their access to the European market. Russia has used Central Asia's gas, primarily that from Turkmenistan, on occasions where it has found itself unable to meet all its delivery obligations from its own production. Such circumstances in 2000 led to Gazprom allowing Turkmenistan to use its pipelines to supply gas to the Russian domestic market leaving Gazprom free to fulfil its obligations towards European customers. Other main natural gas producers in Russia are gas companies Novatek, Itera, Northgas and Rospan, and vertically integrated oil companies Surgutneftegaz, TNK-BP, Rosneft and LUKOIL.

The main export market of Russian natural gas is the European Union. Russia supplies a quarter of the EU gas consumption, mainly via transit trough Ukraine (Soyuz, Brotherhood) and Belarus (Yamal-Europe pipeline). The main importers are Germany (where links were developed as a result of Germany's Ostpolitik during the 1970s, and also Ukraine, Italy, Turkey, France and Hungary.


Russia is the largest oil producer in the non-OPEC countries, and second biggest in the world after Saudi Arabia, which it overtakes as the world's number one from time to time. In 2006, Russia contributed 12.1 % of global oil production and 11.6 % of global oil exports. In June 2006, Russian crude oil and condensate production reached the post-Soviet maximum of 9.7 million barrels per day (b/d), exceeding production in 2000 by 3.2 million b/d. Russian export consists more than 5 million b/d of oil and nearly 2 million b/d of refined products, which go mainly to the European market. The domestic demand in 2005 was 2.6 million b/d on average. Russia is also the main transit country for oil from Kazakhstan.

The biggest Russian oil company is Rosneft followed by Lukoil, TNK-BP, Surgutneftegaz, Gazprom Neft and Tatneft. All oil trunk pipelines (except Caspian Pipeline Consortium) are owned and operated by the state-owned monopoly Transneft and oil products pipelines are owned and operated by its subsidiary Transnefteproduct. Currently, Transneft is constructing the Eastern Siberia – Pacific Ocean oil pipeline that would bring Russian oil to the Asian-Pacific markets (China, Japan, Korea).

As the Arctic ice cap shrinks due to global warming, the prospect of oil exploration in the Arctic Ocean is thought to be an increasing possibility. On December 20, 2001, Russia submitted documents to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf claiming expanded limits to Russian continental shelf beyond the previous 200 mile zone within the Russian Arctic sector. In 2002 the UN Commission recommended that Russia should carry out additional research, which commenced in 2007. It is thought that the area may contain 10bn tonnes of gas and oil deposits.


Russia has the world’s second largest coal reserves, with 157 billion tonnes of reserves.

Russian coal reserves are widely dispersed. The principal hard coal deposits are located in the Pechora and Kuznetsk basins. The Kansk-Achinsk basin contains huge deposits of brown coal. The Siberian Lena and Tunguska basins constitute largely unexplored resources, the commercial exploitation of which would probably be difficult.

Non-conventional oil

Oil shale

Russia owns the biggest oil shale reserves in Europe equal to 35.47 billion tonnes of shale oil. More than 80 oil shale deposits have been identified. Main deposits are located in the Volga-Petchyorsk province and the Baltic Basin. Extraction of the deposits in the Volga-Petchyorsk province began in the 1930s, but was abandoned due the environmental problems. Main oil shale industry was concentrated on the Baltic Basin in Slantsy, but at the end of 1990s the Slantsy oil shale processing plant and oil shale-fired power station were converted to use traditional hydrocarbons, and the mining activities were stopped at the beginning of 2000s. In Syzran a small processing plant continues to operate.

Natural bitumen and extra-heavy oil

Small amount of extra-heavy oil reserves have been identified in the Volga-Urals and North Caucasus-Mangyshlak basins. Large deposits of natural bitumen are located in Eastern Siberia in the Lena-Tunguska basin. Other bitumen deposits are located in the Timan-Pechora and Volga-Urals Basins, and in Tatarstan. In September 2007, Tatneft and Royal Dutch Shell announced a strategic partnership to develop heavy crude oil production in Tatarstan, where Tatneft already has pilot production of bitumen.


Uranium exploration and development activities have been largely concentrated on three east-of-Urals uranium districts (Transural, West Siberia and Vitim). The most important uranium producing area has been the Streltsovsky region near Krasnokamensk in the Chitinskaya Oblast. In 2005, the Russian Federation was the world’s fourth largest producer of uranium, accounting for 8.2% of global output.

Electricity production

Russia is the world fourth largest electricity producer after the USA, China, and Japan. In 2005, Russia produced 951 TWh and exported 23 TWh of electricity. Roughly 63% of Russia's electricity is generated by thermal plants, 21% by hydropower and 16% comes from nuclear reactors. Russia exports electricity to the CIS countries, Latvia, Lithuania, China, Poland, Turkey and Finland.

The Russian energy market is dominated by the Unified Energy System. While production and sale will be opened up to competition, transmission and distribution remain under state control.

During last years there were several blackouts, notably the 2005 Moscow power blackouts.


The Russia’s gross theoretical potential of hydro resource base is 2,295 TWh per year, of which 852 TWh is regarded as economically feasible. Most of this potential is located in Siberia and the Far East. Hydro generation (including pumped-storage output) in 2005 was 175 TWh, which represents 5.8% of world's total hydroelectricity generation. Russia ranked as the fifth hydroelectricity producer in the world. At the end of 2005 installed hydroelectric generating capacity was 45.7 GW.

Nuclear energy

In 2005, a nuclear energy supply in Russia counted 149 TWh, which is 15.7 % of total Russian electricity output and 5.4 % of global nuclear energy production. The total installed capacity of nuclear reactors is 21,244MW. There are plans to increase the number of commercial reactors from thirty one to fifty nine.

According to the government order from 2001, all Russian civil reactors are operated by Rosenergoatom. On 19 January 2007 Russian Parliament adopted the law, which will create Atomenergoprom - a holding company for all Russian civil nuclear industry, including Rosenergoatom, the nuclear fuel producer and supplier TVEL, the uranium trader Tekhsnabexport (Tenex) and nuclear facilities constructor Atomstroyexport.

Renewable energy

Renewable energy in Russia is largely undeveloped although Russia has potential in renewable energy resources.

Geothermal energy

Geothermal energy, which is used for heating and electricity production in some regions of the Northern Caucasus and the Far East, is the most developed renewable energy source in Russia. Geothermal resources have been identified in the Northern Caucasus, Western Siberia, Lake Baikal, and in Kamchatka and the Kuril Islands. In 1966 a 4 MWe single-flash plant was commissioned at Pauzhetka (currently 11 MWe) followed by a 12 MWe geothermal power plant at Verkhne Mutnovsky, and 50 MWe Mutnovsky geothermal power plant. At end of 2005 installed capacity for direct use amounted to more than 307 MWt.


The principal peat areas are located in the north-western parts of Russia, in West Siberia, near the western coast of Kamchatka and in several other far-eastern regions. The Siberian peatlands account for nearly 75 % of Russia's total reserves of 186 billion tonnes, second only to Canada’s. Approximately 5 % of the exploitable peat deposits (1.5 million tonnes per annum) are used for fuel production. Although peat was used as industrial fuel for power generation in Russia for long period, its share has been in long-term decline, and since 1980 has amounted to less than 1 %.

Solar energy

It has been estimated that the Russia's gross potential for solar energy is 2.3 trillion tce. The regions with the best solar radiation potential are the North Caucasus, the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea areas, and the southern parts of Siberia and the Far East. This potential is largely unused, although the possibilities for off-grid solar energy or hybrid applications in remote areas are huge. However, the construction of a single solar power plant Kislovodskaya SPP (1.5 MW) has been delayed.

Wind energy

Russia has good wind resources with the highest potential at the coastal areas of the Pacific and Arctic Oceans, and the vast steppe and the mountain areas. Large-scale wind energy systems can be applied in Siberia and the Far East (east of Sakhalin Island, the south of Kamchatka, the Chukotka Peninsula, Vladivostok), the steppes along the Volga river, the northern Caucasus steppes and mountains, and the Kola Peninsula, where the resource is favourable and power infrastructure and major industrial consumers in place. At the end of 2006, total installed wind capacity was 15 MW. The main wind power stations are Kalmytskaya (2 MW), Zapolyarnaya (1.5 MW), Kulikovskaya (5.1 MW), Tyupkildi (2.2 MW) and Observation Cape (2.5 MW). Feasibility studies are being carried out on the Kaliningradskaya (50 MW) and the Leningradskaya (75 MW) wind farms. There are about 100 MW of wind projects in Kalmykia and in Krasnodar Krai.

Tidal energy

A small pilot tidal power plant with a capacity of 400 kW was constructed at Kislaya Guba near Murmansk in 1968. In 2007, Gidro OGK, a subsidiary of the Unified Energy System (UES) began the installation of a 1.5 MW experimental orthogonal turbine at Kislaya Guba. If it proves successful, UES plans to continue with Mezen Bay (15,000 MW) and Tugur Bay (7,980 MW) projects.

Climate change

Vladimir Putin approved the Kyoto Protocol on November 4, 2004 and Russia officially notified the United Nations of its ratification on November 18, 2004. The issue of Russian ratification was particularly closely watched in the international community, as the accord was brought into force 90 days after Russian ratification (February 16, 2005).

President Putin had earlier decided in favour of the protocol in September 2004, along with the Russian cabinet, against the opinion of the Russian Academy of Sciences, of the Ministry for Industry and Energy and of the then president's economic advisor, Andrey Illarionov, and in exchange to EU's support for the Russia's admission in the WTO. As anticipated after this, ratification by the lower (October 22, 2004) and upper house of parliament did not encounter any obstacles.

The Kyoto Protocol limits emissions to a percentage increase or decrease from their 1990 levels. Since 1990 the economies of most countries in the former Soviet Union have collapsed, as have their greenhouse gas emissions. Because of this, Russia should have no problem meeting its commitments under Kyoto, as its current emission levels are substantially below its targets.

It is debatable whether Russia will benefit from selling emissions credits to other countries in the Kyoto Protocol, although Gazprom has already entered the market. "Russia is the Saudi Arabia of carbon [carbon emissions credits]," said its representative. "There is a tremendous bank there".

Energy usage

In terms of the Russian energy demand structure, domestic production greatly exceeds domestic demand, making Russia the world’s leading net energy exporter.

Energy in foreign policy

Russia's energy superpower status has recently become a hot topic in the European Union. Russia's overwhelmingly large reserves of natural gas have helped give it the title without much debate.

Energy disputes

Russia has recently been accused in the West (i.e. Europe and the United States) of using its natural resources as a policy tool to be wielded against offending states like Georgia, Ukraine, and other states it perceives as hindrances to its power. According to one estimate, since 1991 there were more than 55 energy incidents, of which more than 30 had political underpinnings. Only 11 incidents had no political connections. On the other hand, Russian officials like to remind their Western partners that even at the height of the Cold War the Soviet Union never disrupted energy supplies to the West.

Russia, in turn, accuses the West of applying double-standards relating to market principles, pointing out that it has been supplying gas to the states in question at prices that were significantly below world market levels, and in some cases remain so even after the increases. Russia argues that it is not obligated to effectively subsidize the economies of post-Soviet states by offering them resources at below-market prices.

Azerbaijan and Armenia

Starting January 1, 2007 Gazprom increased the price of natural gas for Azerbaijan to 235 USD per thousand cubic metres. Azerbaijan refused to pay this price and the gas export to Azerbaijan stopped. On its side, Azerbaijan stopped oil export to and via Russia. A year earlier, pro-Russian Armenia was hit with the same 100% price hike as Western-oriented Georgia, Vladimir Socor has observed.


The Russia-Belarus energy dispute began when Russian state-owned gas supplier Gazprom demanded an increase in gas prices paid by Belarus, which has been closely allied with Moscow and forms a loose union state with Russia. It escalated on January 8, 2007, when the Russian state-owned pipeline company Transneft stopped pumping oil into the Druzhba pipeline which runs through Belarus. Transneft has accused Belarus of forcing the shutdown by stealing oil from the pipeline and halted the oil transport. On January 10, Transneft resumed oil exports through the pipeline after Belarus ended the tariff that sparked the shutdown, despite differing messages from the parties on the state of negotiations.

Czech Republic

On 9 July 2008, after signing an agreement between the United States and the Czech Republic to host a tracking radar for an antiballistic missile system, the flow of Russian oil through the Druzhba pipeline to the Czech Republic started to reduce. Although officially the linkage between reduction of oil supplies and the radar agreement was not claimed, it was suspected. Transneft denied any connections with radar agreement, saying that reduction was purely commercial as Tatneft and Bashneft started to refine more oil at their own refineries. "Mr. Putin asked Mr. Sechin to 'work with all partners to make sure there are no disruptions.'".


In the January 2006 alleged North Ossetia sabotage, two simultaneous explosions occurred on the main branch and a reserve branch of the Mozdok-Tbilisi pipeline in the Russian border region of North Ossetia. The electricity transmission line in Russia's southern region of Karachayevo-Cherkessiya near the Georgian border was brought down by an explosion just hours later. Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili blamed Russia for putting pressure on Georgia's energy system at the time of the coldest weather.

On November 1, 2006 Gazprom announced that it will construct a direct gas pipeline to Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia. The work on the pipeline started just before South Ossetia's November 12 referendum on separating from Georgia. Starting January 1, 2007 Gazprom increased natural gas prices to Georgia following an international incident in an alleged effort to strongly influence the Georgian leadership's defiance of Moscow. The current price is 235 USD per thousand cubic metre, which is the highest among the CIS countries.

The August 2008 military conflict between Georgia and Russia over the autonomous region of South Ossetia, which has been de-facto independent from Georgia since the early 1990s, is likely to shift the balance of power between the main players involved in the formation of the future of the Caspian and Central Asian energy sector, including:

• Producer and transit countries: Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Turkey and Iran;

• Foreign corporations operating in the region's hydrocarbon sector;

• Major external players: China, Russia, the European Union and the United States.

The volatility of these transit routes is likely to shape investment decisions of international oil companies involved in the development of Central Asian and Caspian hydrocarbons and their transportation to global markets. Governments of these resource rich countries are bound to have serious concerns about the safety of BTC, WREP and BTE pipelines, the railway networks and the oil terminals at the Georgian Black Sea ports of Batumi, Kulevi and Poti, all of which were halted by the Georgian-Russian hostilities. Although, the pipelines were only temporarily shut down for security reasons and were not targeted or damaged in the conflict, their future expansion and the construction of related new pipeline projects, such as the Kazakh-Caspian Transportation System, the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline and Nabucco are now uncertain. In this situation, Central Asian and Caspian producers may opt for traditional exports via Russia (providing Moscow successfully expands the capacity of its oil and gas export routes) and the new export pipelines to China..


On July 29, 2006 Russia shut down oil export to Mažeikių oil refinery in Lithuania after an oil spill on the Druzhba pipeline system occurred in Russia’s Bryansk oblast, near the point where a line to Belarus and Lithuania branches off the main export pipeline. Transneft said it would need one year and nine months to repair the damaged section. Although Russia cited technical reasons for stopping oil deliveries to Lithuania, Lithuania claims that the oil supply was stopped because Lithuania sold the Mažeikių refinery to Polish company PKN Orlen in an effort to avoid the refinery and infrastructure being bought out by Russian interests. Russian crude oil is now being transshipped via the Būtingė Marine Terminal.


At the beginning of 2006 Russia greatly increased the price of gas for the Ukraine to bring it inline with market values. The dispute between Russian state-owned gas supplier Gazprom and Ukraine over natural gas prices started in March 2005 (over the price of natural gas and prices for the transition of Gazprom's gas to Europe). The two parties were unable to reach an agreement to resolve the dispute, and Russia cut gas exports to Ukraine on January 1, 2006 at 10:00 MSK. The supply was restored on January 4, when a preliminary agreement between two gas companies was settled.

EU-Russia Energy Dialogue

The EU-Russia Energy Dialogue was launched at the EU-Russia Summit in Paris in October 2000. At the working level the Energy Dialogue consists three thematic working groups. The Energy Dialogue involves the EU Member States, energy industry and the international financial institutions.

Ratification of the Energy Charter Treaty

Russia signed the Energy Charter Treaty in 1994, but flatly refused to ratify its current revision. Russia's main objections to the ratification revolve around the proviso about the third party access to the pipelines and transit fees. Notwithstanding the fact that Russia didn't ratify the treaty, Ivan Materov, State Secretary and Deputy Minister of Industry and Energy of the Russian Federation, serves as the vice-chairman of the Energy Charter Conference, and Andrei Konoplyanik as the Deputy Secretary General.

Russia and the European Union have also failed to finalize the negotiations on the Energy Charter Protocol on Transit. The main issue remain open is how, and to what extent, the Protocol will include mechanisms for establishment long term transit arrangements. Also the third party access to its pipeline infrastructure has remained Russia's main objection to the Protocol.

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