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US Fantasizes About Kicking Russia Out of European Energy Market, but Berlin Needs Russian Natural Gas

Even when it comes to liquified natural gas alone, Europe still buys more from Russia

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Dreams are nice to have, but there just is no scenario in the world where it makes much sense for Europe to source its gas all the way from America — sabogating Russian pipelines to EU is completely pointless

<figcaption>Atomic container carrier 'Sevmorput' with cargo for Arctic LNG 2 project © Global Look Press / Novatek</figcaption>
Atomic container carrier 'Sevmorput' with cargo for Arctic LNG 2 project © Global Look Press / Novatek

Russia shipped more LNG (liquefied natural gas) to European and Asian markets than the United States last year, the International Group of Liquefied Natural Gas Importers, GIIGNL, said in its annual report.

According to the document, the 15 European countries including Spain, France, and the Netherlands, received a total of 4.43 million tons of LNG from Russia – over 60 percent more than from the US. America’s total shipments to the European market amounted to 2.7 million tons.

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In Europe, net LNG imports were up 6.4 percent reaching 48.9 million tons compared to previous year’s purchases. Qatar, Algeria, and Nigeria topped the list of the largest LNG exporters to the region, with Doha having shipped more than 16 million tons.

Washington has been trying to compete with Moscow for the European energy market, by warning its EU allies of their growing dependency on Russian energy, mainly natural gas, while pushing its own LNG sales to the region. The US has been vocally criticizing the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany. Berlin has repeatedly defended the project, arguing that it wants to carry out an independent energy policy and ensure energy security.

Moreover, Russia left the US behind in deliveries to the leading LNG importing region, Asia, as China and South Korea continue to drive global demand. The LNG shipments from Russia amounted to 12.86 million tons last year, while American imports stood at 10.73 million tons.

Australia secured the leading position on the Asian market, with more than 66 million tons delivered last year. Qatar followed in second place with over 56 million tons of LNG shipped.

However, the US overtook Russia in overall LNG exports last year, having supplied around 2.3 million more to its customers, led by South Korea, Mexico, and Japan.

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In 2018, global LNG imports reached 313.8 million tons, an increase of 8.3 percent compared with the previous year, the third largest annual surge behind 2010 and 2017, according to GIIGNL calculations. New LNG supply volumes were mostly driven by new production from Australia – which became the largest LNG exporter – the US, and Russia, which recently fully launched the Yamal LNG project in the Arctic.

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