As Europe undergoes one of the worst energy crises in decades, EU Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson this week traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with key U.S. officials as a show of strength and unity between Europe and the United States to address the energy challenges ahead.
Commissioner Simson along with EU High Representative Josep Borrell Fontelles headed up the European Union delegation at the ninth EU-US Energy Council chaired by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The Council underscored that it intends to work together to ensure that liquified natural gas (LNG) markets are robust enough to provide the additional capacity and flexibility needed to compensate for any pipeline gas disruption that may come as countries move away from fossil fuels to meet their Net Zero targets.
In response to the growing threat of military conflict on Europe’s Eastern border of Ukraine-Russia, the Council reaffirmed Ukraine’s position as a strategic gas transit country and the body discussed ‘intensifying cooperation in the short-term [between the European Union and United States] to ensure sufficient energy supplies for the EU and its neighborhood’. The ninth meeting of the Council left no doubt to the importance of strong U.S. and EU ties for its energy security both to overcome the short-term disruptions caused by geo-political conflict but also long-term as the continent transitions to clean sources of energy.
Commissioner Simson also attended a conversation at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies titled ‘The Future of European Energy’. During the discussion Simson touched heavily on US LNG exports and noted that in January this year, the United States was the top natural gas supplier to Europe, saying:
“The U.S. has helped us a lot since December and January we have received lots of LNG cargoes that has helped us replace the missing pipeline volumes.”
Simson also outlined the solid position Europe is in at the moment as a market for importing U.S. LNG into its energy market:
“All across Europe we have LNG terminals, which is a commodity that you can trade freely and gives us some flexibility. It has helped us already to compensate for the decrease in pipeline flows from our major supplier Russia.”
This is a crucial point worth underscoring, as although global LNG analysts will often cite Europe’s lack of storage capacity, Europe does have the existing infrastructure, ports, and pipelines in place to transit imported LNG as a means of meeting domestic demand.
When speaking to Europe’s climate and Net Zero ambitions Simson cited the EU’s commitment last summer to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030, a hugely ambitious undertaking. It was during this discussion that Simson stated that Europeans “know we will need LNG as a fuel during our transition period,” in part because it will take decades to achieve full decarbonization of a continent of over half a billion people. For LNG as a transition fuel in particular, this reaffirms its place as a long-term fuel source for Europe and underscores EU-U.S. energy relations are stronger than ever.
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