This May’s U.S.-EU Energy Council meeting emphasized the critical connection between energy diversification and security. In particular, the Council stressed the importance of transatlantic cooperation to improve Europe’s energy diversification and ensure adequate alternative energy sources, suppliers, and transportation routes. In 2013, about 40% of EU gas imports came from Russia. Too many member states are still heavily dependent on Russian energy, especially Slovakia.
To safeguard its future energy security, Europe needs to develop alternative sources of energy to reduce its dependence on a single supplier. Liquid natural gas (LNG) can provide the flexibility, security, and price benefits that Europe desperately needs, and the United States can help Europe take advantage of these benefits. In April we opened the first global-scale U.S. LNG export facility at Sabine Pass in Louisiana, and the first U.S. LNG exports cargo recently arrived in Europe in Lisbon, Portugal. The United States is now set to become one of the biggest natural gas exporters and welcomes this opportunity to provide our gas supplies to countries currently reliant on a single supplier.
By exploring LNG projects we can enhance U.S. energy security as well as that of our partners and allies worldwide. Now the EU must decide whether it wants to become increasingly reliant on a single source of gas through the proposed Nord Stream II pipeline, or to diversify its energy sources. Projects like Nord Stream II not only prevent Europe from achieving energy diversification, but also reduce leverage during price negotiations.
As the EU Council Presidency chair, Slovakia cited the creation of an Energy Union among its priorities and now has the unique opportunity to make important progress toward a truly integrated EU energy market. Department of State Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs Amos Hochstein echoed the U.S.-EU Energy Council’s priorities at last month’s informal EU energy ministerial in Bratislava, prompting the first high-level discussion in Slovakia about LNG’s potential. Choosing LNG can help Slovakia and Europe achieve greater energy diversification, reduce dependence on a single supplier, and ensure energy security, all while strengthening both EU solidarity and U.S.-EU energy cooperation.