Imports of U.S. natural gas to the European Union have climbed nearly 300 percent since 2016, with the bulk of that increase coming after President Donald Trump met with European officials in 2017 to flesh out a trade deal.
The EU made the announcement Thursday ahead of a meeting between U.S. and European business leaders in Brussels on ways to further increase natural gas trade. The meeting is featuring Energy Secretary Rick Perry and EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete.
“We share a history of transatlantic cooperation, through good times and bad, and together, we promote our heritage of freedom,” Perry said in a press statement. “When it comes to natural gas, we each have what the other needs to derive tremendous mutual benefit from advancing our energy relationship.”
Trump has lobbied intensely for European countries to shift their energy imports from Russia to the U.S., if for no other reason than to diversify their energy markets. He told world leaders at a Group of 20 summit in 2017 that the U.S. wants to make it easier for companies to ship natural gas products to Eastern Europe.
Germany and Russia opposed Trump’s stance starting in June 2017 when the Trump administration publicly criticized Russia’s natural gas pipeline, the Nord Stream 2.
German officials pushed back against a U.S. lawmaker-led campaign to kill the pipeline, a nearly $10 billion gas line linking parts of Europe to Russia. The Nord Stream 2 would shuttle an additional 55 billion cubic meters of gas directly from Russia to Germany.
The tide started to turn in late 2018, when German Chancellor Angela Merkel offered government support for a project that would supply Germany with U.S. natural gas. She said in October 2018 her government will co-finance the construction of a $576 million liquefied natural gas shipping terminal, according to media reports.
The explosion in exports to the EU comes at significant financier costs. U.S. liquefied natural gas is mined, turned into liquid and shipped overseas. It requires special terminals for unloading, storing and converting it back into gas, making it around 20 percent more expensive than Russian gas, which is shuttled directly into Germany from Russian pipelines.
The EU recorded its highest level of EU-U.S. natural gas trade in March with more than 1.4 billion cubic meters of imports.
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