The United States and the European Union established a new collaboration on Friday to reduce Europe’s dependency on Russian energy, a move that top officials described as the beginning of a years-long effort to further isolate Moscow following its invasion of Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to US President Joe Biden, uses energy to “coerce and manipulate his neighbors,” and proceeds from its sale are used to “fuel his war machine.”
Biden claims that the cooperation he launched with a top European Union official will reverse that trend by reducing Europe’s reliance on Russian energy sources while also lowering the continent’s total demand for gas.
According to the president, such a move is not only “morally right,” but also “would put us on a stronger geopolitical basis.”
According to the proposal, the United States and other countries will expand liquefied natural gas exports to Europe by 15 billion cubic meters this year, though US officials were unable to specify which countries would deliver the additional energy. In the future, even bigger supplies will arrive.
Simultaneously, they will aim to stay on track with their climate targets by using clean energy to power gas infrastructure and decreasing methane leaks, which can exacerbate global warming.
According to the White House, while the program would most likely necessitate additional infrastructure for importing liquefied natural gas, it is also aimed at reducing long-term dependency on fossil fuels through energy efficiency and other energy sources.
Ursula von der Leyen, the EU’s executive arm, believes it is critical for Europe to move away from Russia and toward energy suppliers who are trustworthy, friendly, and dependable.
“Our goal is to diminish and eventually eliminate our reliance on Russian fossil resources,” she stated.
Russian energy is a significant source of revenue and political clout for the Russian government. Nearly 40% of the natural gas used to heat homes, generate electricity, and power industry in the European Union is imported from Russia.
Following the news, Biden was on his way from Brussels to Rzeszow, Poland, where US forces are stationed about an hour’s drive from the Ukrainian border.
He’ll be informed on the humanitarian response to the influx of refugees fleeing Ukraine as well as the plight of those still trapped inside. He’ll also visit with members of the 82nd Airborne Division from the United States, who are stationed alongside Polish forces.
Before returning to the United States, Biden is scheduled to fly to Warsaw for talks with Polish President Andrzej Duda and a speech to the Polish people on Saturday.
Biden attended a trio of summits in Brussels on Thursday, held by NATO, the Group of Seven industrialized nations, and the European Union. The rare run of meetings shows growing alarm over Ukraine’s conflict, which is now in its second month.
Despite the fact that Ukraine has held off Russia’s invasion far better than expected, the fight has turned into a laborious and violent affair, with thousands of casualties on both sides and millions of refugees fleeing the nation.
Western politicians are also fearful that Russian President Vladimir Putin may use chemical or nuclear weapons to re-energize the conflict.
Even though the US has been drastically boosting its exports in recent years, getting more liquefied natural gas to Europe could be problematic. Many export terminals are already at capacity, while the majority of new ones are still in the development stages.
The Center for Liquefied Natural Gas, an industry advocacy group, claims that the majority of US shipments already travel to Europe. Despite the fact that much of the supply has already been contracted to purchasers, there are still options to reroute it.
“The United States is in a unique position because it has flexible LNG that can be diverted to Europe or Asia depending on who is ready to pay the price,” said Emily McClain, a Rystad gas markets expert.
Even if the United States is able to transport more gas to Europe, the region may have difficulty receiving it. Import ports are generally found towards the shore, where there are less pipeline connections to distribute it.
And even if all of Europe’s facilities were fully operational, the amount of gas delivered through pipelines would likely be less than two-thirds of what Russia delivers.