Int'l Energy Firms Tell US They Lack Gas to Replace Russian Supplies to Europe, Media Says
Washington repeatedly claimed that Russia might use its gas supplies to exercise political pressure on the EU, despite Moscow's assurances that it is not true. Now, Russian gas supplies are endangered by tensions around Ukraine and the West's threats of sanctions as fuel prices remain high compared with last year.
It would be difficult to replace Russian gas
supplies to Europe, several unidentified energy companies have told the US after the Department of State asked whether it was possible, according to a report from Reuters citing several anonymous sources in the industry and an unnamed US official.
The companies indicated in their response that gas supplies are at present too limited in the world to replace Russia, which accounts for about a third of EU supplies, Reuters said. Although the Department of State did not specifically ask the companies to boost their output, it asked whether it would be possible and whether the companies could maintain natural gas supplies to the market in case Russia shuts off supplies, for example by delaying maintenance, Reuters' anonymous source in the department claimed.
"We've discussed a range of contingencies and we've talked about all that we're doing with our nation state partners and allies […] It's accurate to say that we've spoken to them about our concerns and spoken to them about a range of contingencies, but there wasn't any sort of request when it comes to production," the unnamed official told Reuters.
It is not clear which companies were allegedly contacted by the Department of State and why it was making such inquiries. The White House has not commented on the report, but a US National Security Council spokesman told Reuters that contingency planning was continuing without specifying what that involves.
The report comes as gas prices in Europe continue to stay high compared with the beginning of 2021. Several factors contributed to this surge, including a prolonged winter that emptied gas reservoirs on the continent and the EU countries' failure to fill them up in summer amid high competition for LNG shipments with the Asian countries, whose economies experienced a resurgence after COVID lockdowns. The gas price first breached the $1,000 per cubic metre and then nearly hit the $2,000 mark before receding a bit.
27 December 2021, 21:42 GMT
Spiking gas prices have already caused energy bills for consumers and businesses alike to shoot up in Europe. Loss of a major gas supplier such as Russia would likely exacerbate the situation for the EU and so the US vowed to help it however it can, an anonymous industry source told Reuters.
"The United States promised to have Europe's back if there should be an energy shortage because of conflict or sanctions. The [Department of State's senior adviser for energy security, Amos Hochstein] is going to big LNG producing companies and countries such as Qatar to see if they can help the United States," the source said.
The report comes as western nations continue to level allegations that Russia might be planning an "invasion in Ukraine" – a claim Moscow has vehemently rejected. The US vowed to slap harsh sanctions
against the Kremlin should that happen and discussed joint action with European allies. The fearmongering of invasion is based on reports that Russian troops have been redeployed along the border with Ukraine. Russia had already moved its troops to this region by April 2021, but it was a temporary measure for military exercises.