Despite its increased importance, international energy governance is still an under-researched concept. Whereas the vast literature on energy security focuses on the inherent security threats that come with excessive dependency on energy imports and compe tition for natural resources, an energy governance approach looks at the inherent challenges, but also the opportunities, of institutionalising the global trade in energy commodities.
By using a modified version of Williamson and North's New Institution al Economics-framework, so as to deconstruct the underlying reasons for the failure of one such attempt at building energy governance, the EU-Russia Energy Dialogue, the project will try and make some generalisations as to why establishing viable mechanis ms for energy governance at the regional level - let alone at the global level - has proved exceedingly difficult. One reason for this is that energy - and particularly natural gas - is inextricably linked with politics. First, energy has several security implications, which stretch way beyond the narrow confines of economic rationality. Second, hydrocarbons are unevenly distributed, yet universally in demand, making them an issue of not just domestic politics, but international politics, too. As such, th e project breaks with one of the fundamental assumptions of the prevailing governance literature - namely the deteriorating influence of the state. Rather, it argues that it is because of the continued importance of the state that establishing viable ener gy governance structures has proven such a challenge. Moreover, by adding an international relations perspective to what has traditionally been the realm of economists, geologists and area specialists, the project aims to bridge an artificial academic div ide in the prevailing literature.