Geopolitics of fuel

Transport is by far the biggest driver of oil demand at EU level with 2/3rds of the final demand coming from transport. According to a study by Cambridge Econometrics – the EU’s dependence on crude oil and diesel imports has increased in the last 15 years.
In 2015 Europe spent in total around €215bn on crude oil and diesel imports.

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Europe increasingly dependent on risky oil imports – July 2016
Cambridge Econometrics & Transport & Environment
Oil Report

Laura Buffet Oil & Biofuels Officer Transport & Environment  Tel: +32(0)2 851 02 12

Importing fuel from outside the EU – the geopolitics behind the craving

Over the years, the EU has become increasingly dependent on crude oil imports. These accounted for over 88% of the region’s total oil consumption in 2014, compared to 76% in 2000.

Russia accounted for one third of EU imports of crude oil to the EU in 2015, followed by Norway (12%), Saudi Arabia (8%) and Nigeria (8%).

Through its imports, the EU is highly dependent on regions with high geopolitical instability. According to data published by the World Bank, Northern Africa is the region with greatest geopolitical risk, closely followed by Russia and the Middle East. Iraq, Libya and Nigeria are among the countries with the highest risk of geopolitical instability that also export large volumes of crude oil to the EU.

The report also assesses for the first time which companies, instead of countries, benefit from the EU’s oil imports. Over 80% of the imported crude oil in 2014 was supplied by non-European companies. Rosneft and Lukoil are the biggest beneficiaries, together they receive around a third of the EU’s oil import revenues or over €60bn.

The transport sector is the biggest driver of oil demand at EU level – two-thirds of final demand for oil comes from transport. In 2014, road transport accounted for 54% of final demand for petroleum products. Reducing the EU’s energy dependency and decarbonising transport are two sides of the same coin. The EU needs to reduce its demand for crude oil and petroleum products in the transport sector if it wants to reduce its energy bill and its reliance on geopolitically and environmentally risky oil imports. Implementing a strong decarbonisation strategy for transport will not only permit the EU to address energy insecurity, it will also bring climate, environmental and economic benefits in the long-term.

Russian imports
0 Bn Euros
Diesel imports 2014
Norwegian imports
Saudi Arabia’s imports
Nigerian imports
IMPORT dependency of the EU

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Truck technology

What makes a truck consumes less fuel? Part of the solution is the way a truck driver actually drives the truck - but a huge part is about the technological options one can purchase with the truck. As a matter of fact truck drivers and hauliers could already save more than 30% of fuel each year, by adding these expensive options proposed by manufacturers.

The economics of the trucking industry

Having more than 13 million trucks on EU roads and dominating the global truck market with a share of 40%, the European trucking industry is enormous. Controlled by five companies, this market will continue to grow in the next decade - read all about their share and their huge economic influence in our report on the economics of the trucking industry.

  • European Commission flags Berlaymont VECTO test

The position of the European Commission

The EU first signaled it wanted to tackle truck CO2 emissions in 2007. For almost a decade, the Commission remained vague about its plans and focused on developing a test procedure to measure truck CO2 emissions called VECTO.

The rest of the world is ahead of us

China adopted its first set of truck fuel economy standards in 2011. Three years later it finalised the second - more demanding - truck fuel economy standard. In May 2016 the Chinese government announced the 3rd phase. The EU is currently the only large developed economy that does not regulate fuel efficiency for trucks.