29th October 2021, Brussels - European gas companies that form the influential ENTSO-G group and the fossil fuel giants that own them, made profits of at least €4bn, during the first 6 months of 2021, according to new analysis by Global Witness.
It comes as the EU looks set to further entrench the role of ENTSO-G in helping to shape EU gas policy, including the huge say they hold over which gas projects will receive public subsidy.
The analysis shows that every one of the 26 companies that has published 2021 financial records, including the likes of Belgium’s Fluxys, Italy’s SNAM, and Gasunie - with operations in the Netherlands and Germany - made a profit, at a time when the European energy crisis was beginning to take shape.
The two companies who have published more recent accounts (July to September) have both made big profits as the energy crisis hit consumers. The German oil and gas company Wintershall made €243m during this time, up 245% on the previous year.
Jonathan Noronha-Gant, Senior Gas Campaigner at Global Witness, said:
“At a time when many Europeans are being forced to choose between heating and eating, Europe’s powerful gas companies are enjoying huge profits. As these companies pass massive rises in the price of gas onto some of the most vulnerable people, it leaves a sour taste that those same companies continue to enjoy healthy profits.”
“It is shocking that companies like Wintershall have celebrated Europe’s gas price spike as a way to make profits. It is even more questionable that they will most likely retain the astonishing influence they have over the EU’s energy policy. As negotiations continue over the future role of ENTSO-G, the EU must take note and consider whether a group of privately interested companies, making big profits off a carbon-emitting fuel, should really be relied upon to input on their energy decisions.”
“It’s well known the damage fossil gas does to our climate and with it now proven to be unreliable and volatile, it’s time the EU shifts away from all fossil fuels and moves to a genuinely renewable future, as well as protecting the most vulnerable citizens from the rise in gas prices.”
For the past year the EU has been revising its key energy policy, known as TEN-E. An important area for reform has been the role of ENTSO-G, who currently enjoy influence over which projects – like pipelines and import terminals – the EU will back both politically and financially. In doing so, Global Witness found that almost 90 per cent of all EU money for fossil gas projects has gone on ventures backed by ENTSO-G companies. Further analysis by Global Witness also showed that €440m of EU taxpayer money has been wasted on fossil gas projects that have either failed or are likely to fail.
Despite the obvious flaws in this arrangement, the revision of TEN-E is unlikely to yield any serious changes to the role of ENTSO-G with the European Commission’s proposals leaving their influence untouched. Both the European Council and Parliament proposals similarly failed to address the conflict of interest at the heart of this process.
Global Witness is calling for ENTSO-G’s forecasting and infrastructure responsibilities to be transferred to an independent body and its members should be barred from participating in the process to decide which EU energy projects receive public funds and political support.