Europeans feel the heat of high oil prices. How have they affected European economies?
Oil producer Russia is cashing in – but what happens to all the money?
Is Eastern Europe too dependent on Russia’s oil?
And will Sweden become the first country in the world to break its dependency on the black gold?
The rise and rise of oil
The rise of oil prices has been relentless over the past few years - from about 10 dollars a barrel in 1999, to 40 dollars last year to more than 60 dollars today. Production shortages caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, even pushed the price of crude to over 70 dollars last month. And the sky high oil prices seem here to stay - with continued instability in Iraq, the approaching winter and the ever growing global demand. So just how are the European economies effected?
Windfall for Russia?
High oil prices are particularly worrying for counties that rely on imports for their energy needs. But the situation isn’t much better in oil producing countries. Ironically a boom in income doesn’t mean the prices are getting any lower or that economic growth is secure.
Poland and Russian oil. Dependency relationship?
Now, since the collapse of communism in the late 1980ies, Poland has done its best to loosen its economic dependence on Russia. But while Poland has found new markets for its products, it‘s been less successful in diversifying its sources for oil and gas. And with political relations with Russia going from bad to worse, Poland is worried that Moscow might one day turn off the tap.
High costs hit motorists in Eastern Europe
Romania: As an oil producer, Romania does not rely on imports to cover its domestic needs. However Romanian motorists are suffering from the high oil prices.
Slovakia: In Bratislava, where Slovakians have some of the lowest salaries in the European Union. Katarina Richterova from Radio Slovakia reports on how consumers are coping with rising fuel prices.
Going green. Germany tests alternatives
The high oil prices inevitably raise the question: what are the alternatives to oil?Oil reserves are forecast to last for 60 years - but could run out more quickly if countries do not reduce consumption or use alternative sources of energy. In Germany people are coming up with alternatives. An increased number of consumers and companies are running their vehicles on cooking oil – even though the country’s motoring body warns that this could be dangerous. Deutsche Welle’s Ben Fajzullin reports on an innovative way to cut fuel costs.
Going Green: Sweden takes a step?
The Swedish government went a big step further earlier this month: Mona Sahlin, Minister for Sustainable Development announced that Sweden would become the first country in the world to break its dependency on oil by switching to alternative energy sources.
Closing Music: Röyskopp “What else is there?”
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