EU’s Imports of US Liquefied Natural Gas Already on the Rise, European Commission Says

EU’s Imports of US Liquefied Natural Gas Already on the Rise, European Commission Says

The European Union is already importing growing amounts of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States, the European Commission, the EU executive, has announced.

The EC announcement comes in the wake of the July 25, 2018, meeting of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and US President Donald Trump during which the EU committed to buying more American LNG.

The Trump – Juncker meeting was crucial as, at least for the time being, it has resulted in avoiding a full-fledged trade war, with a joint statement declaring “a new phase” in what is the world’s largest trade relationship, that between the EU and the US.

The EU’s imports of American natural gas have grown from zero back in April 2016, when the first US LNG carrier arrived in the port of Sines in Portugal, to 2.8 billion cubic meters presently. In 2017 Europe represented more than 10% of total U.S. liquefied natural gas exports, up from 5% in 2016.

The Commission reminded that the European Union would import more liquefied natural gas from the United States to diversify and render its energy supply more secure, which is why the EU and the US would work to facilitate the LNG trade in the wake of the Trump – Juncker meeting.

“The European Union is ready to facilitate more imports of liquefied natural gas from the U.S. and this is already the case as we speak,” EC President Jean-Claude Juncker is quoted as saying.

“The growing exports of U.S. liquefied natural gas, if priced competitively, could play an increasing and strategic role in EU gas supply; but the U.S. needs to play its role in doing away with red tape restrictions on liquefied natural gas exports. Both sides have much to gain by working together in the energy field,” he elaborated.

“Diversification is an important element for ensuring the security of gas supply in the EU. Increasing imports of competitively priced liquefied natural gas from the U.S. is therefore to be welcomed,” said in turn EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete.

“This is happening at a time when EU indigenous gas production is declining more rapidly than foreseen and there is an accelerated phase-out of coal power plants in the EU,” he added.

The Commission noted also that the EU had co-funded or pledged funding to LNG infrastructure projects worth over EUR 638 million.

A total of 14 LNG infrastructure projects funded by the Union are projected to increase its spare capacity by 15 billion cubic meters by 2021, up from 150 billion cubic meters at present, which would provide extra storage place for imports from the US.

“Currently, US legislation still requires prior regulatory approval for liquefied natural gas exports to Europe. These restrictions need to be addressed and US rules made easier for US liquefied natural gas to be exported to the EU,” the Commission said.

It pointed out that the joint statement from the Trump – Juncker meeting had been followed up on with ongoing top level contacts, with a further meeting expected on August 20 when Juncker’s Trade Adviser and a senior EU trade official are traveling to Washington D.C. to meet with their US counterparts.

(Banner image: European Commission)

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