U.S. Ready to Compete with Russia on European LNG Market: Official

The United States is ready to compete with Russia in the liquefied natural gas market in Europe, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Sandra Oudkirk told reporters after a conference at the Atlantic Council think tank.

“We are ready to compete in the EU especially… in regard to LNG,” Oudkirk said on Monday,  the Financial Tribune reported.

“The United States has 30 operational Floating Storage Regasification Units,” Oudkirk said, but the volume U.S. companies can sell to the EU “is much less than the volume that Russia can sell through its pipelines.”

The assistant secretary of state said the price is the main issue, adding that the United States is eager to sell gas all over the world wherever the price is competitive.

“Washington needs to work on regasification, liquefaction, transport and storage costs,” Oudkirk said.

The United States has been increasing its LNG deliveries to European Union countries and become the six largest LNG supplier of the 28-nation bloc in the first quarter of 2017.

According to the International Energy Agency, the United States will become one of the leading LNG exporters in five years.

Europe has been struggling to cope with gas demands this winter, as a stretch of cold weather gripped the continent. A large arctic air mass nicknamed the “Beast from the East” stretched from the Russian Far East to the British Isles in late February and early March, causing record-low temperatures well below freezing in Western Europe. It was the worst winter weather in the UK and Ireland for 30 years.

Weather warmed up over the past two weeks, but on Saturday the Beast will return, plunging Brussels temperatures down to -5°C (23°F). Now there is some doubt about whether Europe will have the gas to keep people warm during this new freeze.

Gas demand soared and prices reached record highs at the end of February. Gas stocks in Northwest Europe are now at a seven-year low. Withdrawal rates are severely constrained by the lack of inventory.