EU, US pledge gas cooperation as Russian tensions rise

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A gas meter is pictured in the cellar of a house in Bad Honnef, near Bonn, Germany, January 4, 2022, as energy costs in the EU reach new levels. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

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BRUSSELS, Feb 7 (Reuters) – The European Union and the United States will on Monday pledge to work to ensure liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies can respond to pipeline flow disruptions, as tensions mount between the West and Russia, the biggest gas producer in Europe. provider.

Europe’s reliance on Russian gas has come under scrutiny in recent months as weaker-than-expected Russian supply and rising tensions over Moscow’s troop build-up in its border with Ukraine have helped push prices to record highs.

Russia, the European Union’s leading gas supplier, supplies about 40% of Europe’s natural gas.

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At a meeting on Monday, senior EU and US officials will pledge further cooperation on LNG, according to a draft joint statement seen by Reuters.

“The EU and the United States intend to work together to ensure that global liquefied natural gas markets have the capacity to provide additional and diversified supplies in the event of short-term pipeline disruptions,” according to the draft. which could change before it is published.

It might help if Russia limits gas flows in response to Western economic sanctions if it invades Ukraine. The Kremlin says it’s not planning an invasion.

Lower than normal gas supplies from Russia in recent months have prompted EU officials and the International Energy Agency to accuse Moscow of contributing to Europe’s undersupply. Gazprom said it fulfilled all long-term contracts.

“It is unacceptable to use energy supply as a geopolitical weapon or leverage,” the draft EU-US statement reads.

European LNG imports reached a record level in January at 11.8 billion m3, nearly 45% of which came from the United States.

The EU is reviewing its contingency plans in the event of a gas supply disruption and European officials have been in talks since late last year with suppliers including Qatar and Norway to boost volumes. Read more

Initially, the additional plans were primarily a response to high prices, but heightened tensions with Russia intensified talks.

“There was a clear willingness on the part of Azerbaijan to support the EU in the event of disruption of gas flows,” EU energy policy chief Kadri Simson said after meeting officials governments in Azerbaijan last week.

Unused LNG infrastructure capacity in Europe could handle larger volumes, although analysts warn of bottlenecks including limited global liquefaction capacity.

Monday’s draft statement made clear that gas could only be a short-term solution, citing the longer-term need to move away from fossil fuels, such as gas, as the EU seeks to limit global warming and achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

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Reporting by Kate Abnett; edited by Barbara Lewis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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