EU strikes gas deal with US as it seeks to reduce reliance on Russia

US President Joe Biden listens as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivers a statement on Russia at the US Chief of Mission’s residence in Brussels, March 25, 2022.

Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

The United States said on Friday it would work with international partners to supply at least an additional 15 billion cubic meters of liquefied natural gas to Europe this year, seeking to end the bloc’s dependence on Russian energy exports after the Kremlin invaded Ukraine.

These additional LNG volumes are expected to increase in the future, the White House said in a statement.

It comes as energy-importing countries continue to fund President Vladimir Putin’s war chest daily with oil and gas revenues.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called the US commitment of additional LNG this year a “big step in that direction”. “Thank you for supporting Europe’s energy security and independence from Russia,” von der Leyen said via Twitter on Friday.

The United States and the EU announced the formation of a joint task force to strengthen the energy security of Ukraine and the EU for the coming winter and next.

The “Task Force For Energy Security” will be chaired by a representative of the White House and a representative of the European Commission, the EU executive.

The main goals of the task force, the US and EU said, would be to diversify LNG supplies in line with climate goals and reduce demand for natural gas.

The initiative will likely require new facilities for importing LNG, especially as the EU seeks to increase its demand for US gas supplies.

Energy security

The White House said the EU said it would work to ensure, until at least 2030, demand for about 50 billion cubic meters per year of additional US LNG. This is “in line with our shared goals of net zero,” he added.

“This will also be done with the understanding that prices should reflect long-term market fundamentals and stable supply and demand,” the United States said.

Russian energy is an essential source of income and political leverage for Moscow.

Indeed, the EU currently receives around 40% of its gas via Russian pipelines, several of which cross Ukraine.

Russian oil and gas revenues have been seen to be responsible for around 43% of the Kremlin’s federal budget between 2011 and 2020, underscoring how central fossil fuels play for the Russian government.

Russia’s war with Ukraine has coincided with sharp increases in coal, oil and gas prices as countries jostle to replace Russian energy sources.

The rush to worsen humanity’s dependence on fossil fuels in the wake of the crisis in Ukraine prompted a stern warning from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“Countries could become so wrapped up in the immediate fossil fuel supply shortfall that they neglect or impose policies to reduce fossil fuel use,” António Guterres said earlier this week. “And that’s madness: Fossil fuel addiction is mutually assured destruction.”

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