The challenge – secure, sustainable and affordable energy
Maintaining a steady supply of affordable energy in years to come is one of the biggest challenges facing Europe. Energy is indispensable for economic growth and prosperity.
Oil and gas are an integral part of our everyday lives, and that is not about to change. The major technological breakthroughs of the 19th and 20th centuries, the emergence of the automotive and aviation industries, and the innovations in the chemical industry drove the rapid expansion in demand for fossil fuels and petrochemicals. The birth of the “petroleum age” in turn prompted technological advances, and made hydrocarbons the foundation of economic growth and prosperity. Coal dominated the European energy market up the middle of the 20th century, but was overtaken by oil in the 1960s and accounted for almost half of global energy consumption by the time of the second oil price shock in 1979. Today, oil and natural gas make up around 55 percent of world energy demand and meet more than 60 percent of Austria’s energy needs.
A bright future
Oil and gas will remain the dominant energy sources for a long time to come. They still form the backbone of energy supply around the world. There is still plenty of oil and gas in the ground, and indeed global reserves have never been higher. Modern technology and an improved understanding of reservoir characteristics mean that it is now possible to tap reserves that were previously considered commercially unrecoverable. In 1960 it was assumed that global oil reserves amounted to 30 billion tonnes and would run out in 38 years, but today the planet’s 234 billion tonnes of proven reserves are expected to last for 54 years, despite the steep rise in consumption that has taken place in the meantime.
Valuable energy on our doorstep
Austria’s oil and gas reserves play an important part in security of supply. Some seven percent of the oil and 17 percent of the gas required by Austria is produced domestically – a major gain for the national economy. Large investments in oil and gas exploration, production and storage also have a major economic impact. In the past few years RAG has pumped more than EUR 1 billion into the Austrian economy by building production systems and storage facilities. The latter are RAG’s response to one of the biggest challenges facing the energy sector: storability. Austria’s geology means it is predestined for a role as one of Europe’s energy storage leader. Relative to consumption, the country already has the largest gas storage capacity in Europe – and the figure will grow still further in the next few years.
EU energy strategy - the 20-20-20 targets
The European Union sees energy as one of the biggest challenges facing the continent. The EU’s climate and energy package, with its 20-20-20 targets, is aimed at putting Europe on a new, more sustainable and secure path. The prime objectives of these policies are reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving energy efficiency and raising the share of renewables in the energy mix. Climate-friendly natural gas has a pivotal role to play in meeting these objectives.