US President Biden has declared himself Europe’s savior from energy dependence on Russia and approved an energy agreement with the European Union under which the US is to increase transatlantic gas supplies, in the hope of weakening the influence Russia enjoyed due to its natural resources.
However, Politico has already questioned whether such promises by Biden can be realized and the US will deliver the 15 billion cubic meters of gas it has promised to the European markets, which is around 40% of total EU gas consumption. As the publication points out, citing the opinion of an influential US official, it would be a very difficult task for Washington to supply such a volume of raw materials, as it would then have to convince Asia to give up already booked supplies in order to send gas to Europe.
Furthermore, an emergency switch by European countries from Russian gas to American commodity would result in a global climate catastrophe. This statement was made by Kelly Sheehan, Senior Director of Energy Campaigns for the environmental organization Sierra Club, as reported by the British newspaper The Guardian. According to Sheehan, an additional 15 billion cubic meters of LNG from the US followed by an increase to 50 billion cubic meters a year to European countries could extend the phase-out of fossil fuels for years to come.
Various experts have repeatedly shown that this US-European “gas” plan against Russia is doomed to fail. First, the EU will not be able to meet its needs with US gas alone, as the US is able to increase its gas supply only by 10%. Second, the US does not have as many liquefaction plants in operation. The EU itself lacks the necessary terminals to receive American gas and has yet to build them, as well as special plants to convert American liquefied gas into its conventional form.
Washington officially announced its intention to replace Russian gas with American gas in Europe on February 6 and in parallel began trying to build a coalition of US LNG exporting countries in Europe to reduce the dependence of Central Europe, especially Germany, on supplies from Russia. As one alternative, the US has even suggested, according to the newspaper La Vanguardia, building a gas pipeline from Spain’s Catalonia to France, from where the liquefied gas would flow to Central European countries. As support for the initiative, Washington pointed out that Spain currently has seven terminals for storing liquefied gas, including from America, and there is scope to increase capacity for regasification (converting liquefied gas into natural gas). The draft is to be discussed at the NATO General Assembly in June (although it is not clear why at the NATO Assembly?).
Although the Canadian government and media have been saying for weeks that the country could help Europe break its dependence on Russian gas, this is unlikely to happen in the near future, Le Figaro states. As the publication explains, it is all about the lack of infrastructure for liquefaction, which requires many billions of dollars and four to five years to build. Without it, the Canadians will only be able to sell their gas to the US, where demand for the blue fuel is declining.
Despite Britain’s active support, at the behest of Washington, for the US propaganda campaign on plans to replace Russian gas for Europe, and all the assurances by British officials that the kingdom is not dependent on Russian energy resources, the volume of Russian diesel fuel imports to the UK has doubled in recent years, The Daily Telegraph reports. According to the newspaper, the United Kingdom has in fact managed to become one of the largest importers of Russian diesel fuel in Europe over the past decade and its share in total imports rose from 10% to 18% between 2012 and 2020 and has no prospect to decrease. Moreover, statistics show that the share of Russian coal has also grown over the past decade: while in 2010 it accounted for 16% of all British imports, in the first three quarters of 2021 it was 35%.
In recent months, EU and British officials, showing their allegiance to Washington and its policy of replacing Russian gas for Europe, have repeatedly declared their intentions to abandon or reduce dependence on Russian gas. Meanwhile, Qatar was seen as an alternative supplier. German Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Action Robert Habeck even announced on March 20, following a visit to the emirate, that he had agreed on energy cooperation involving the supply of liquefied natural gas to Germany. He stressed that the exact volumes and timing of deliveries had been discussed during the visit, but refused to give details and figures. However, in an interview with FAZ, Saad bin Sharida al-Kaabi denied reports of an alleged long-term contract for LNG supplies from Qatar to Germany, which began to appear in the German media amid Habeck’s statements.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in his talks with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in mid-March, also failed to persuade these countries to increase energy production and exports to Britain.
In these circumstances, French President Emmanuel Macron has said that the European Commission could in future be empowered to procure gas centrally for EU countries. According to him, it will bring together companies that already have contracts for supplies and will look for new suppliers, among other things.
However, so far such an arrangement implies the only possible option for the coming years, which has already been tested by Washington in Ukraine. Namely, when Kiev, to please Washington, began to declare its complete rejection of Russian gas, buying it through other intermediaries and, naturally, with additional mark-ups. This, in turn, has led to even higher gas prices for consumers in Ukraine, increasing the costs of gas and energy to the state and Ukrainians themselves.
No doubt, a similar fate awaits the EU, as well as citizens living in Europe, in an effort to meet Washington’s whims by foregoing cheaper Russian pipeline gas to pay off US debts by buying significantly more expensive US LNG, or through “shady schemes” with various intermediaries. This, in turn, will lead to even more energy debt for Europeans and higher prices for all products on the European market, including foodstuffs.
But will the Europeans themselves agree to such an “American aid scheme” and won’t they go to the barricades in the coming days to change the current European politicians?
Vladimir Danilov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.