NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organization

Energy security

Allies recognise that the disruption of energy supply could affect the security of their societies and have an impact on NATO's military operations. While these issues are primarily the responsibility of national governments, NATO continues to consult on energy security and further develops the capacity to contribute to energy security, concentrating on areas where NATO can add value. To this end, NATO seeks to enhance its strategic awareness of energy developments with security implications; develop its competence in supporting the protection of critical energy infrastructure; and work towards significantly improving the energy efficiency of the military.

  • NATO’s energy security activities

    Enhancing strategic awareness of the security implications of energy developments

    While NATO is not an energy institution, energy developments, such as supply disruptions, affect the international security environment and can have far-reaching security implications for some Allies. As a result, NATO closely follows relevant energy trends and developments and seeks to raise its strategic awareness in this area. This includes consultations on energy security among Allies and partner countries, intelligence-sharing, as well as specific events, such as workshops, table-top exercises, and briefings by external experts. An important event in this regard was the North Atlantic Council’s seminar on global energy developments in January 2014, which underscored the security implications of recent energy trends. NATO also seeks to ensure that its military is well aware of the role energy developments can play in the NATO’s strategic environment, and has started to organise training courses in this regard.

    Supporting the protection of critical energy infrastructure

    All countries are increasingly reliant on vital energy infrastructure, including in the maritime domain, on which energy security and prosperity depend. Energy infrastructure is also one of the most vulnerable assets, especially in areas of conflict. Since infrastructure networks extend beyond borders, attacks on complex energy infrastructure by hostile states, terrorists or hacktivists can have repercussions across regions. For this reason, NATO seeks to increase its competence in supporting the protection of critical energy infrastructure, mainly through training and exercises. Protecting energy infrastructure is, however, primarily a national responsibility. Hence, NATO's contribution focuses on areas where it can add value, notably the exchange of best practices with partner countries, many of which are important energy producers or transit countries, and with other international institutions and the private sector. By protecting important sea lanes, NATO's counter-piracy operations also make an indirect contribution to energy security.

    Enhancing energy efficiency in the military

    Enhancing energy efficiency in the military focuses on reducing the energy consumption of military vehicles and camps, as well as minimising the environmental footprint. Work in this area concentrates on bringing together experts to examine existing national endeavours and proposing multinational projects. It also includes studying the behavioural aspects of saving energy in exercises and operations, as well as developing common energy efficiency standards and procedures. A significant step forward in this area is the adoption of NATO’s “Green Defence” framework in February 2014. It seeks to make NATO more operationally effective through changes in the use of energy, while saving resources and enhancing environmental sustainability. NATO also continues to implement the Smart Energy Team (SENT) project, supported by the NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme, with the goal to find Smart Energy solutions for the military.

  • Evolution

    At the Bucharest Summit in 2008, Allies noted a report on “NATO’s Role in Energy Security”, which identified guiding principles and outlined options and recommendations for further activities. These were reiterated at subsequent summits, while at the same time giving NATO's role clearer focus and direction. The 2010 Strategic Concept, the setting up of an Energy Security Section in the Emerging Security Challenges Division at NATO Headquarters, and the accreditation of the NATO Energy Security Centre of Excellence in Lithuania in 2012 were major milestones in this process.

    The decision of NATO Heads of State and Government to “integrate … energy security considerations in NATO’s policies and activities” (2010 Lisbon Summit Declaration) also meant the need for NATO to reflect energy security in its education and training efforts, as well as in its exercise scenarios. Work is under way in this regard.

    In the years to come, NATO will seek to further enhance the strategic dialogue, both among Allies and with partner countries, offer more education and training opportunities, and deepen its ties with other international organisations, (such as the International Energy Agency), academia, and the private sector. With increased awareness of energy risks, enhanced competence to support infrastructure protection, and enhanced energy efficiency in the military, NATO will be better prepared to respond to the emerging security challenges of the 21st century.

Last updated: 22-Aug-2014 10:12

NATO Review

Energy security: running on empty? 28 May. 2014 If you asked a man in the street in Europe whether he thought Ukraine should pay the market price for gas, he would probably have few strong feelings on the issue. However, if you told him that this question could decide whether his home would be warm or freezing in winter, he would probably show more interest. In this edition, we look at what effect Russia's manoeuvres in Ukraine could have further down the pipeline. 
Energy insecurity: what can NATO do? 28 May. 2014 What do the changes to the energy landscape following the Ukraine crisis mean for NATO? How does the organization need to change to better face energy challenges? We ask some top commentators and politicians what kind of changes they feel should be made. 
The energy dimensions of Russia’s annexation of Crimea 28 May. 2014 Many saw Russia's annexation of Crimea as a land grab, or securing a base for its Black Sea fleet, or just part of a plan to destabilize Ukraine. But there are major energy consequences too, as Frank Umbach explains. 
Russian-Ukrainian-EU gas conflict: who stands to lose most? 28 May. 2014 A possible energy standoff between Russia and the EU would be playing for high stakes. Europe could lose around a third of its energy supplies. Russia could lose about half of its state budget. Who should blink first - and why? 
Transatlantic energy security and the Ukraine-crisis: A blessing in disguise? 28 May. 2014 The Ukraine-crisis has once again underlined Europe’s vulnerability due to its overdependence on Russian energy supplies. Europe is vulnerable in the short-term, but Russia has more to lose in the medium- and long-term. Could the crisis be an opportunity to further weaken Russia’s stranglehold over Europe’s energy sector? 
Cartoons - could energy security look like this? 28 May. 2014 It's not yet clear how the events in Ukraine will impact on Europe's energy security. Or if it will change European priorities vis-à-vis renewable energy. So we asked our NATO Review cartoonist, Rytis Daukantas, to give us a sideways view of what he thought the potential changes could look like. 
NATO’s energy security agenda 28 May. 2014 A politico-military organization like NATO is not necessarily in its comfort zone when dealing with commercial energy deals, major pipeline projects and fossil fuel diversification. But as energy becomes an increasingly potent weapon in conflicts which can have a major impact on most of NATO's members, it's time for the Alliance to learn what it can do. 
Food security: an unfashionable subject often taken for granted 12 Oct. 2012 Food insecurity still blights some areas of the world. But the main problem is not the overall amount of food. It is its correct distribution. Just changing this could save millions of lives and reduce conflict. 
Energy security and NATO: a view from Washington 12 Oct. 2012 What you see depends on where you are standing…and the view of energy security from here on the banks of the Potomac River, is surely quite different from that on the banks of the Seine, the Thames, the Vistula, or of Faxafloi Bay. 
Fuel for thought 12 Oct. 2012 Energy use is not a side issue for security. Power outages in many NATO states have shown how vulnerable we all are without sufficient energy. As the demand for more energy resources increases, how can we make sure this does not lead to conflict? 
Nature's forces and the armed forces 12 Oct. 2012 NATO Review looks at why getting the armed forces closer to the realities of energy and environmental problems is actually a good move. And why most people would benefit. 
Food, Water and Energy 12 Oct. 2012 Those who thought that climate change, energy insecurity and food shortages were the things of faraway lands have had cause to think again recently. 
e-Power to rise up the security agenda 23 Jan. 2012 Joseph Nye outlines how the cyberworld has created changes in power: e-Power. And it is a world where everyone is seemingly equal - but some are more equal than others. Here he outlines how this could develop in 2012. 


NATO's Role in Energy Security 26 Oct. 2011 Five questions and answers explaining NATO's role in the field of energy security