President Donald Trump said earlier this week that he expected the European Union to build between 9 and 11 LNG terminals to take in the “vast amounts” of U.S. gas he agreed upon with the EC’s president, Jean-Claude Juncker, last week. Despite the upbeat tone of the news, the reality may be quite different.
It’s not a secret that Trump agreed to drop tariffs on European products in exchange for more LNG import capacity to undermine Russia’s dominance in the European gas market. Indeed, Juncker said that talks with Trump had helped the EU make a final decision on funding to the tune of $325 million for new LNG import terminals. Yet it is very possible that the EC’s president has swindled Trump here.
These 9 to 11 new LNG terminals Trump mentioned during his meeting with Italy’s PM Giuseppe Conti this week are actually not new. They were planned before Trump became president, so they can hardly be called a result of bilateral talks. What’s more, these terminals are being developed by private companies and the EU has limited control over decisions made by private companies despite the financial support for the projects. Furthermore, these terminals are being built in Croatia, Greece, and Cyprus—not exactly what one would call major gas-consuming European markets.
Perhaps more importantly, however, is the simple fact that 75% of Europe’s existing LNG capacity is idle. This speaks volumes about the continent’s…