In This Review

The Bridge: Natural Gas in a Redivided Europe
The Bridge: Natural Gas in a Redivided Europe
By Thane Gustafson
Harvard University Press, 2020, 520 pp

Few energy issues provoke as much transatlantic angst as Europe’s reliance on Russian natural gas. Critics fret that trusting Russian President Vladimir Putin to keep the heat on invites blackmail. In a useful exploration of Europe’s energy future, Gustafson offers a corrective to this view. Factors beyond geopolitics have shaped and will continue to drive the Russian-European energy relationship. Russia has suddenly stopped exports to Europe on a few occasions, but the business logic of Russian supply and European demand has generally held firm and will likely continue to do so despite U.S. pressure. Gustafson shows how the European Union has used its legal powers—enforcing regulations on competition and requirements to diversify gas transportation links—to limit the ability of the Russian energy giant Gazprom to monopolize supply for the continent. He also outlines how the changing nature of the gas industry itself has shifted the balance of power: Gazprom faces competition from U.S. and Russian liquefied natural gas producers. Indeed, the most ominous development for the natural gas sector may come not from geopolitical tensions with Russia but from growing calls in Europe to keep fossil fuels in the ground.