July 31, 2018 Read More →

Skeptics question hype around U.S. gas export market in Europe

Washington Post:

Europe is unlikely to veer from its current plans to build a small number of new plants for importing liquefied natural gas, energy experts said, casting doubts on President Trump’s claims Monday that he had secured commitments from the European Union for the construction of nine to 11 plants to boost U.S. exports.

In comments at the end of a joint news conference with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Monday, Trump portrayed the commitment as a victory in his “fantastic meeting” with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker last week.

But while there have already been about a dozen proposals on the drawing boards, no more than three or four new plants will be built anytime soon. That’s because the existing 24 LNG import facilities now operating in Europe are running at about a quarter of their capacity, said Thierry Bros, senior fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.

What’s more, there are limited tools the E.U. can use to speed up construction of new plants by private companies.

“We have enough capacity. We may need a little bit more in some dedicated areas. Otherwise I don’t see how we can need 11” new plants, Bros said. “There may be a few more to be needed such as one in Croatia. But all the others are there, and at end of day it is private money going into it even if regulated.”

LNG will also have to compete against three large gas pipeline projects — two from Russia and one from the Caspian Sea. The NordStream 2 will deliver gas from Russia to Germany.

The TurkStream will bring gas from Russia to Turkey and then Central Europe, circumventing Ukraine. And the Shah Deniz 2, which just started transporting gas from the Caspian to Turkey, will be extended into Greece, Albania and Italy.

“The E.U. does not decide how many LNG terminals to build; those are commercially driven decisions,” Jason Bordoff, director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, said in an email. “Those that are built will source gas from the most competitive sources, which may or may not be U.S. LNG. The market will decide whether the E.U. takes more LNG from the U.S., not Juncker.”

Over the past three years, Europe’s gas consumption has grown 17.5 percent to 470 billion cubic meters, Bros said. LNG imports accounted for 12.5 percent of that total, and they will increase as Europe’s domestic gas production declines and as consumption grows. Existing facilities for the import of LNG could meet 40 percent of current European demand.

More: E.U. unlikely to build up to 11 plants to import LNG from U.S., as Trump says

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