Europe still too dependent on Russia for gas and Obama administration too slow on exports

Fuel Fix:
Europe remains overly dependent on Russia for their energy supply and need to establish a steady natural gas supply from the United States and other countries, U.S. and European diplomatic officials said Thursday.

Since Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened last year to cut off a major pipeline running through Ukraine, officials from Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia said their countries had been working to get the import terminals and other infrastructure built to shift away from Russia.

“We are small. We are very much industrialized, with not a lot of energy resources,” Jan Kuderjavy, director of economic diplomacy in the Slovak Republic, said during a forum at the Atlantic Council Thursday. “Energy diversity is very dear to us and were trying to find a solution.”

With a glut of natural gas in the United States, producers in shale fields across Texas and Pennsylvania are eager to begin selling in Europe where Russia, the world’s largest gas exporter, has long reigned supreme.

A series of terminals designed to liquefy natural gas for shipment abroad are in various stages of development along the Gulf Coast. The first, Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass terminal, began operation earlier this year and as of Monday had filled seven tankers for shipment abroad.

But only one of those was bound for Europe.

Robin Dunnigan, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for energy diplomacy, said while there was much work to be done to create the infrastructure necessary to bring liquefied natural gas across the Atlantic Ocean, progress was being made. She cited an LNG import terminal that opened in Poland last year and pointed to projects under discussion in Greece and Croatia.
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Both sides of the Atlantic need to show increased urgency in dealing with the strategic threat of Russia using gas as a weapon against Europe.   Obama has appointed too many people from the anti-energy left who are slow-walking the approval process.  The US could also do more to build import facilities in Europe to take advantage of LNG shipments.

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