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The European Union (EU) is becoming increasingly dependent on Russian natural gas supply, Steven Winberg, Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), said at a Senate committee hearing on Thursday, noting that exports of U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) can be part of Europe’s efforts to diversify its energy supply.
As EU member states cut down on coal-fired power generation to comply with emission goals, they raise their natural gas dependence, but due to insufficient pipeline expansions and supply routes, Europe is becoming increasingly dependent on Russia for its natural gas supply, Winberg said before the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources at the U.S. Senate during a hearing to examine the role of U.S. LNG in meeting European energy demand.
Citing the European Commission’s Quarterly Report on European Gas Markets, Winberg said that as EU natural gas imports rose by 6 percent annually in Q4 2017, Russia remained the EU’s top supplier of natural gas, accounting for 43 percent of natural gas imports, while LNG accounted for 12 percent of imports.
“The United States is strongly committed to providing Europe with access to strategic, diverse, and reliable energy supplies,” Winberg said, pointing out that due to the lack of LNG regasification terminals in most central and southeast European EU states, they can rarely access LNG supplies through the EU’s collective natural gas distribution network.
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“This inadequate gas interconnection infrastructure between European Union Member States represents a major obstacle preventing LNG from diversifying supply across the EU,” the DOE official said.
Concluding his testimony in front of the Senate committee, Winberg said that “Increasing exports of U.S. LNG to our allies in Europe creates great opportunities for our nation to advance this administration’s goal of strengthening our allies’ energy security.”
Meanwhile, Russia’s gas giant Gazprom estimates that its deliveries to Europe and Turkey between January and August 2018 rose by 5.6 percent compared to the same period last year, the Chairman of the Management Committee, Alexey Miller, said at the end of August, noting that “Europe’s demand for Gazprom’s gas has been remarkably high for three years in a row.”
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.