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Biden Can’t Do Much to Help Europe With ‘Unrealistic’ Push Away From Russian Energy Supplies: Report

Fire gas stove - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.03.2022
The European Union announced earlier this month that it would seek to cut dependence on Russian gas supplies by two-thirds in response to the Russian military operation in Ukraine. The EU imported $108 billion in energy from Russia in 2021, with these supplies accounting for about 62 percent of the region’s total consumption.
The Biden administration does not have the authority to force US energy producers to trade with European customers, and the EU’s ambitious push to slash imports from Russia is not considered realistic, people who are said to be familiar with the situation have told Politico.

“Governments don’t make deals,” Tufts University’s Climate Policy Lab director, Amy Myers Jaffe, told the outlet, pointing to the lack of federal authority regarding which country or countries oil and gas resources can be directed to. “You don’t have government-to-government oil companies,” Jaffe said. Instead, energy companies typically sell to those countries who offer the highest price for their supplies.

Late last year, as spot prices for natural gas were soaring, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that US deliveries of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe had dropped, in spite of months of US “concerns” about the price crunch being suffered by the region. Russia, Putin said, had increased its gas sales to Europe by 15 percent, and enjoys a competitive advantage against LNG in both pricing and carbon footprint.
Russia delivered some 155 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe in 2021, with these supplies accounting for more than 45 percent of total European imports of the fuel. The region’s reliance on Russian supplies has grown by over 25 percent over the past decade, notwithstanding a US-led effort to sabotage this trade using sanctions and diplomatic pressure to get European countries to buy more US-sourced LNG.
Energy analysts cited by Politico said the two-thirds cut in Russian supplies recently proposed by Brussels “isn’t realistic”, with a 50 to 60 percent reduction possible if a “wartime effort” were undertaken, with those efforts expected to affect the global LNG market with price shocks. An unnamed EU energy official said the bloc’s requests would be "tough to meet". Another source called EU requests to date "vague", and suggested the EU remain wary of importing polluting US gas derived from fracking.

“You have to be very careful about what you hear, what you get – the promises – and distinguish between what the industry would ask for anyway and what they’re asking for in the context of the current situation. I am very cognisant of that division,” the EU official said.

Of America's LNG capacity, 80 percent is already slated for Europe, S&P Global analyst Ross Wyeno said. No additional capacity is expected to be made available until at least 2024.
The crisis in Ukraine has prompted America’s European allies to pledge that they would dramatically reduce purchases of Russian energy, and Washington has instituted a total ban on oil and gas supplies from Russia earlier this month. “We’re moving forward with this ban understanding that many of our European partners and allies may not be in a position to join us,” President Biden said in a speech announcing the ban. The United States has not imported any Russian gas since 2019, and Russian oil accounted for only about one percent of total US consumption in 2021. The absence of Russian supplies has nevertheless had an apparent psychological impact on US energy prices, with gasoline hitting an all-time record of $4.33 per gallon on 11 March before dropping to $4.27 as of Friday.
Vehicle lights pass a price board at a BP gas station in Detroit, Monday, March 7, 2022. - Sputnik International, 1920, 16.03.2022
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Biden is expected to bring up energy during his visit to Brussels on Thursday for a meeting of the European Council and to attend an emergency NATO summit.
Russian officials and energy companies have announced readiness to continue supplying energy to Europe and other clients in accordance with existing contracts and said Moscow is prepared to reach new agreements. Supplies have continued to flow west, including through Ukraine, notwithstanding the ongoing Russian military operation in that country.
Last month, Russia agreed a new 30-year 10 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas per year contract to supply gas to China using a new pipeline. The infrastructure expected to be built within two to three years. Russia already sells natural gas to China using both the Power of Siberia pipeline and LNG deliveries. The People’s Republic purchased 16.5 billion bcm of Russian gas in 2021.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signs a section of the Power of Siberia pipeline during its construction, September 2014. - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.01.2022
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