The EU has announced plans to boost its capacity for liquefied natural gas (LNG), and to support a further increase in LNG imports from the US.
The announcement followed a meeting between European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and US President Donald Trump in Washington, DC, which took place late last month. The focus of the meeting was the US’ tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, but the two parties, which together represent more than 50% of global GDP, also discussed an increase in EU imports of liquefied natural gas.
By increasing its imports of LNG from the US, the EU hopes to diversify its energy supply. Although it is a fossil fuel, LNG is considered the cleanest and most efficient fossil fuel, and will serve the EU’s aim of significantly reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
How much LNG does the EU import from the US?
The EU only began importing LNG in 2016, and over the last two years, imports have increased from zero to 2.8bn m3, with the EU aiming to increase its reliance on liquefied natural gas. The bloc currently has 150 billion cubic meters of LNG capacity, and is supporting 14 infrastructure projects, which aim to increase capacity for LNG by 15 billion cubic metres by 2021.
However, there are also challenges involved; according to US regulations, prior approval is needed for LNG exports from the US to the EU, and the EU has expressed a hope that the US will address regulatory barriers.
How will diversification of the EU’s energy supply benefit the bloc?
By importing more of its energy from the US, the EU aims to secure its supply. According to Juncker, the arrangement is of significant benefit to both parties, and barriers should be lifted as soon as possible.
He explained: “The European Union is ready to facilitate more imports of liquefied natural gas from the US and this is already the case as we speak. The growing exports of US liquefied natural gas, if priced competitively, could play an increasing and strategic role in EU gas supply; but the US needs to play its role in doing away with red tape restrictions on liquefied natural gas exports. Both sides have much to gain by working together in the energy field.”