Much of Europe is heavily-reliant on Russian pipeline gas to satisfy its energy needs-- However, this could change fairly soon. Oil companies and private investors are carefully weighing the initiatives which may be set forth following the 2009 Black Sea Energy and Economic Forum. The Black Sea is home to a wealth of unconventional oil and gas resources which could possibly rival Russia in the sheer volume of output and usage.

The most abundant source of alternative energy thought to be located in the Black Sea is gas hydrates, which is also known by the name “flammable ice.” These hydrates, once extracted, are not only easier to transport than the currently-used liquid natural gas, but are also less harmful to the environment than coal and other fossil fuels.

So far, no major players in the energy industry have made a concerted effort into extracting and refining the gas hydrates in the Black Sea. One factor attributed to this is the environmental awareness of the younger generation, which has made it harder to gain new experts and researchers for such energy sources. While gas hydrates are more environmentally-friendly than other fossil fuels, they still provide a significant amount of pollution.

Ultimately, only time will tell if “flammable ice” can prove to be a viable alternative to Russian gas. If proved to be so, it would be a major leap for Europe’s energy industry, and could possibly change the geopolitics between Europe and Russia.

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