Europe’s quest to replace Russian gas faces many hurdles

“What the invasion of Ukraine has done is take one of the world’s top three natural gas producers out of future planning,” said Charif Souki, executive chairman of Tellurian, a gas company building an export terminal in Louisiana. . “No one will rely on Russia in the future. Now the United States has the opportunity to become the natural gas powerhouse by far.

European countries have expressed their intention to gradually reduce their dependence on more than 150 billion cubic feet of Russian gas imported annually, in part by importing an additional 50 billion cubic feet of LNG, or about 50% more than what they currently import.

It won’t be easy, because the global LNG market represents only 523 billion cubic meters per year, of which nearly 20% is already destined for Europe. New LNG export terminals are coming online in the United States and Qatar, but demand is growing even faster, especially in Asian countries trying to reduce air pollution from burning coal.

That leaves the United States, even though several of its gas fields have insufficient pipeline capacity and have attracted few major drillers because prices were so low until recently.

Since the Russian invasion, the Biden administration has pledged to increase LNG exports to the European Union by 15 billion cubic feet, or about 40%. That’s only about a tenth of Russian shipments to Europe, but US energy experts say US companies could produce and ship significantly more gas with more pipelines and export terminals.

Export operations are expanding in the United States, with three new terminals expected to be completed by 2026. Another 10 await permits, long-term buyers and investors. EQT, a leading gas producer, has called for the country to quadruple its LNG capacity by 2030, a proposal that has received broad industry support.

“We have the resources in the ground,” said David Braziel, chief executive of RBN Energy, an analytics firm. “And we could develop them if you had an indication from the administration that they want to develop natural gas resources.”

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