Jack Sharples

Research Fellow

Dr Jack Sharples is a Research Fellow on the Natural Gas Research Programme at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies (OIES), having joined the Institute in January 2018. He holds a PhD and MSc in Russian and East European Studies from the University of Glasgow, and a BA in Politics from the University of York. Prior to joining the Institute, he spent four years as a Lecturer in Energy Politics and International Relations at the European University in St Petersburg. Outside OIES, he has been the author of the ‘Gazprom Monitor’ monthly analytical reports for the European Geopolitical Forum (Brussels) since June 2012.

He is the author of several academic journal articles and book chapters, including: ‘The international political economy of Eastern European energy security: Russia, Ukraine, and the European Union’ (2018); ‘Europe’s largest natural gas producer in an era of climate change: Gazprom’ (2017) ‘Energy transitions in carbon-producing countries: Russia’ (2016); ‘Building the Energy Union: the problem of cross-border gas pipeline interconnections in Baltic, Central, and South-Eastern Europe’ (2016); ‘The importance of gas storage facilities in the European gas and power markets’ (2016); ‘The shifting geopolitics of Russia’s gas exports and the impact on EU Russia gas relations’ (2016); and ‘Russian gas supplies to Europe: the likelihood, and potential impact, of an interruption in gas transit via Ukraine’ (2016).

Areas of Expertise

Political economy of natural gas in Europe and Russia; Energy security; Development of the EU gas market

Contact

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                    [post_content] => With European gas import demand having risen substantially since 2014, Gazprom has dramatically increased its sales on the European market. In Q1 2018, Gazprom reported record daily gas exports to Europe in late February and early March. This Comment addresses the question of how those volumes were delivered to the market, and the extent to which the infrastructure for delivery of those volumes was used,  highlighting that, in times of peak European gas import demand, full utilisation of the Nord Stream and Yamal-Europe pipelines left Ukraine as the only transit route with spare capacity. Until Nord Stream 2 and Turkish Stream are built, Gazprom will remain dependent on gas transit via Ukraine throughout the year, with Ukraine providing substantial flows in summer as European gas storage facilities are refilled, and a combination of significant flows and additional spare capacity in the winter peak demand period.
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                    [post_content] => The arrival of the first Russian LNG supplies to the UK coincided with the deterioration of UK-Russia diplomatic relations, triggering debates over the role of Russia in UK hydrocarbon imports. Although Russia is the largest supplier of UK coal imports, coal is being phased out of UK energy consumption. Russia is just one of several substantial suppliers of crude oil and refined oil products to the UK, with levels of UK oil demand being strongly linked to developments in the UK transportation fuel mix. By contrast, natural gas is the largest source of UK heat and power generation, and underpins non-transportation sector energy consumption. UK gas import demand is currently largely met by pipeline imports from Norway and LNG imports from Qatar. However, as the UK seeks to cope with fluctuations in domestic gas demand through increased LNG imports and gas trade with north-western Europe, following the closure of the UK’s only seasonal gas storage facility, the challenge to UK energy security is not dependence on Russian gas supplies but rather increasing exposure to international gas market volatility.
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                    [post_content] => Gazprom has confounded many expectations by enjoying two record years of gas sales in Europe in 2016 and 2017. External factors have certainly played a role in its success, with overall European demand rebounding, indigenous production continuing to fall and alternative sources of imports failing to deliver at the expected levels (especially LNG). In addition, Gazprom has demonstrated  a level of flexibility in its pricing strategy that has kept its gas very competitive, with the result that its market share in Europe has grown to 35%. However, the anticipation that this figure could rise towards 40% and above has led EU politicians and policy-makers to become concerned about over-dependence on Russian gas, and many now wish to ensure that Gazprom’s future options are limited by obstructing potential new pipelines. In addition the politics surrounding Ukraine, the imposition of stricter US sanctions, questions surrounding  the DG COMP investigation into Gazprom’s activities and the Stockholm arbitration ruling over contracts with Ukraine add further layers of complexity. This paper therefore explores whether Gazprom’s two anni mirabiles in 2016 and 2017 can be repeated or whether Russian gas faces a more challenging environment in the rest of the decade.
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Latest Publications by Jack Sharples

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