EU claims LNG cooperation with US has sparked booming trade

The European Commission has hailed a 272% increase in LNG exports from the US to the European Union (EU) since a landmark meeting between President Donald Trump and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in July 2018, writes Keith Nuthall. Releasing trade data at a high-level business-to-business energy forum staged in Brussels, where LNG executives from Europe and the US discussed increasing this trade, the Commission said EU imports of US LNG in March 2019 hit a record 1.4bn cm.

The
US share of EU LNG imports was 13.4% over the last six months, compared to 2.3% before the Trump-Juncker meeting. In calendar year 2018, 11% of US LNG exports went to the EU. This has risen to 30% since the meeting of the two presidents. That yielded a joint statement where both sides agreed ‘to strengthen… strategic cooperation with respect to energy’, with the EU importing more US LNG to diversify Europe’s energy supply.

At a press conference following the forum, US Energy Secretary Rick Perry and EU Climate Action and Energy Commission
Miguel Arias Cañete stressed how they want this growth to continue, to better guarantee EU independence from over-reliance on Russian gas. ‘A free sovereign Europe is critical to the US,’ said Perry. ‘The best way to achieve that is by enhancing energy security.’

A paper released by the Commission highlighted how both sides will work to achieve this through US LNG exports. This included the US
removing ‘unnecessary LNG licencing barriers to accelerate exports’; staging consultations and promotion activities with energy players ‘to make US the major gas supplier to Europe’; and boosting EU infrastructure investment, including interconnectors so US LNG can be piped around Europe.

T
he EU is actively supporting the development of new LNG capacity in Europe. In January 2019, a final investment decision was made on building an EU-funded terminal in Krk, Croatia; while a grant agreement was signed in April, involving EU spending of €352mn, to expand the LNG terminal in Świnoujście, Poland.

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