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The U.S. Department of Energy plans to work with private U.S. companies to help Ukraine develop its shale gas resources. In an April 22 interview with the Christian Science Monitor, DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz said, “[Ukrainians] do have a lot of gas potential that they are not developing, both conventional and unconventional. A lot of American companies – or companies operating in America – are where most of the expertise lies with regards to unconventional in particular.”
The same day, the White House outlined a new $50 million aid package to Ukraine during a visit to the country by Vice President Joseph Biden. “With the right investments and the right choices, Ukraine can reduce its energy dependence and increase its energy security,” Biden said at a press conference in Kiev, adding, “We will stand with you to help in every way we can for you to accomplish that goal.”
The aid package pushed by the White House will include visits in the near future to Ukraine by officials from U.S. government agencies intent on helping the country improve its energy security. The White House said the U.S. would help Ukraine obtain reverse flows of natural gas from European neighbors, such as Poland, Hungary and Slovakia, something that would protect Ukraine if Russia decides to turn off the taps.
In May, U.S. technical experts will travel to Ukraine along with officials from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to assist Kiev with boosting conventional oil and gas production from existing fields.
The U.S. will also send Department of Energy and USAID officials to assist with energy efficiency plans.
Ukraine heavily subsidizes the consumption of natural gas, and the White House said improved energy efficiency could “deliver potentially huge cost savings to Ukraine and rationalize energy consumption.”
Despite U.S. assistance, Ukraine is still at the mercy of Russia for its energy needs. Bloomberg Businessweek recently noted that the $50 million in U.S. aid pales in comparison to the debt Ukraine owes to Russia for natural gas.
By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com