Russia is the biggest supplier of gas for Europe, with about a quarter of Europe's current gas requirements covered by Russian gas. Russian also plays a leading role as a gas supplier in Germany. About a third of all German gas imports come from Russian sources. Russia has the biggest gas reserves in the world and a quarter of all proven recoverable reserves.
Most Russian gas comes from western Siberia, from the Tazovskiy peninsula, which together with the more westerly Yamal Peninsula borders the River Ob until it flows into the Kara Sea. The gas reserves in Siberia are located in several layers of storage strata at depths of between 700 and 3,000 metres. Drilling for gas takes place here down to final depths of up to 1,000 metres, with each gas field being opened up with a large number of boreholes. The gas surges up out of the depths at pressures of up to 100 bar, from rocks that were laid in the Cretaceous around 95 million years ago. A wealth of experience and technical know-how are needed to exploit the reserves to their optimum potential.
Europe's geographical position makes it well placed to succeed in the competition for natural gas. The existing Russian gas export infrastructure is oriented primarily to the west European market. Russian exports of natural gas to western Europe flow through a system of pipelines built by the Russian, Ukrainian, Slovakian and Czech gas industries to the town of Waidhaus near the German-Czech border. Waidhaus constitutes the beginning of the East-West leg of the west European gas network through which the gas reaches Germany and is transmitted onward to France and Switzerland Germany has been purchasing gas from Russia for over 35 years. These gas supplies were based on a string of contracts signed by the then Ruhrgas AG with the Soviet gas industry in the 1970s and 80s. The broad spectrum of technical and scientific co-operation that exists between the Russian gas industry and E.ON Ruhrgas today goes far beyond the confines of a purely supplier-buyer relationship. It serves to strengthen and expand the energy partnership between the two countries and is the basis for secure gas supplies in Europe.
There is no question that Russia's gas reserves are large enough to supply Europe for decades to come. New major reserves in the Russian Arctic, on the Yamal Peninsula and the Shtokman Field in the Barents Sea, are the next development projects. Therefore, when it comes to competing with other consumer regions and with other buyers, the success of European importers will depend on whether they are able to create the right conditions for successful negotiation with gas producers. Against this background, E.ON Ruhrgas is making an active contribution to further developing the connections between Germany and Russia and steering natural gas towards Europe in the long term, for example through its long-standing and reliable supply relations with Gazprom and its participation in projects such as the construction of the Nord Stream Pipeline.
Long-term supply contracts are an important basic element in these relations. The gas purchase contracts between E.ON Ruhrgas and Russia run until 2036.