European Union imports of liquefied natural gas from the United States have increased from zero to 2.8bn cubic meters since the arrival of the first US LNG carrier in the Portuguese port of Sines in April 2016.
According to a European Commission press release on August 9, the EU has received more than 40 liquefied natural gas cargoes from the US since 2016. Last year, Europe represented more than 10% of total US liquefied natural gas exports, up from 5% in 2016.
In their Joint Statement in Washington on July 25, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and US President Donald Trump agreed to strengthen EU-US strategic cooperation with respect to energy. In this context, the EU would import more liquefied natural gas from the US to diversify and render its energy supply more secure. The EU and the US will therefore work to facilitate trade in liquefied natural gas.
“The European Union is ready to facilitate more imports of liquefied natural gas from the US and this is already the case as we speak,” said Juncker. “The growing exports of US liquefied natural gas, if priced competitively, could play an increasing and strategic role in EU gas supply; but the US 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.”
In turn, the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, said: “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 US is therefore to be welcomed. 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.”
Currently, US legislation still requires prior regulatory approval for liquefied natural gas exports to Europe. These restrictions need to be addressed and U.S. rules made easier for US liquefied natural gas to be exported to the EU, said the Commission press release.
In a separate report, the Reuters news agency noted that the EU has long worked to diversify away from relying on Russia for almost 40% of its gas needs by developing LNG infrastructure to access other suppliers like the US.
Whether US LNG imports can win market share away from Russia, however, will depend on market forces, EU officials are quick to stress.
Reuters also noted that the EU’s decision to publish historic trade data is unusual but part of the bloc’s drive to sway Trump by showing tariff-free trade flows can benefit the US.
Earlier this month, the European Commission published data showing a surge in US soybean imports so far this year as buyers responded to plunging prices after China largely stopped buying US soybeans in a tit-for-tat trade row.