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U.S. push to export LNG amid Ukraine conflict slowed by climate concerns

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© Reuters. Following Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, prices of gasoline are shown at a station in Jersey City (New Jersey), U.S.A, March 9, 2022. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Timothy Gardner and Jarrett Renshaw

WASHINGTON (Reuters). Despite concerns over climate change, the White House is slowing down its efforts to promote U.S. liquefied oil exports, and decrease Europe’s dependence upon Russian gas, industry sources and government officials said.

Europe is dependent on Russia for 40% of its natural gas. The Ukraine crisis highlighted Europe’s dependency.

People briefed to Reuters said that the White House was considering Tuesday’s U.S. ban on Russian oil products and an interagency review to improve liquefied natural gases exports to Europe.

The interagency report has now been rescheduled, at least for the moment, as some White House staff argued it would be counter to the administration’s efforts in reducing U.S. fossil fuel consumption and production, and tackling climate change. Sources said.

Although natural gas emits less carbon than oil or coal, its extraction, transportation, and drilling results in methane leakage, which is the main cause of climate change. Although the U.S. LNG industry claims that its gas has a lower climate impact than Russian gas, there is no data on Russia’s gas leaks.

Questions about the changes in plans were not answered by the White House or the Department of Energy. The White House was referred any questions by the State Department.

The European Commission released plans Tuesday for reducing EU dependence on Russian Gas by two-thirds and ending its dependency on Russian Fuel “well before 2030.” {nL2N2VD0S1]

According to sources, some Biden officials had hoped that an even more specific U.S. commitment for LNG exports would convince European allies to support the Russia ban on oil imports.

Sources said, “It was easy to send market signals and they could easily have combined them with a push to increase exports of heat pump, renewables or other advanced nuclear to decrease natural gas demand.” Sources said that the effort was stopped due to concerns from the Biden climate team.

20-YEAR CONTRACTS

Biden White House was faced with balancing climate change against other pressing concerns like maintaining low energy prices, low inflation, and supporting union jobs. Two weeks ago, Russia invaded Ukraine. This has brought the matter to an extreme level. Moscow describes the operation as a “special military action.”

Several sources claim that officials from the White House and the Energy Department have been discussing whether or not the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission can expedite the approval of pipelines. They also approved requests for increased capacity at existing terminals in order to transport natural gas to Europe.

Sources said they also talked about whether the United States or the European Union could guarantee parts of 20-year supply deals necessary to finance construction of new terminals, ports, and how banks can finance certain new projects, amid U.S. climate ambassador John Kerry’s attempts to convince them away from investing in fossil fuels.

“Perhaps there might be a waiver or other mechanism to assist banks with financing ()Infrastructure projects,” stated one source.

According to Kerry, the State Department previously stated that financial institutions can make their own decisions. Kerry also hasn’t pressured financial institutions to sign up for the alliance. According to recent government estimates, the United States is able to produce enough natural gas at the 2020 rate for almost 100 years. However, the lack of infrastructure and pipelines that can be used to tap this supply limit the country’s ability to do so.

The United States will soon have the largest global LNG export capability, and seven terminals capable of shipping 11.5 billion cubic yards per day by year’s end.

LNG exports require complex logistics: It needs to be moved underground to an LNG terminal and super-cooled until it can be loaded on a ship. It is then warmed before being put into a pipe once it reaches its destination.

According to ICIS data intelligence, the record number of U.S. freights to Europe and Turkey reached 164 in the first 2 months of 2022. In the previous quarter, there were 125 such cargoes.

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