April 27 (UPI) -- A Polish energy company said Thursday it closed on a deal to take its first-ever shipment of liquefied natural gas sourced from reservoirs in the United States.
Polish Oil & Gas, known by its acronym PGNiG, said its trading branch in London closed on a deal to accept LNG from Cheneire Energy, which owns a terminal in Louisiana that's the only one with the permits necessary for current exports of U.S. natural gas.
"Delivering this cargo from Cheniere to Poland demonstrates the continued demand for U.S. LNG and for Cheniere's full-service model that includes the delivery of LNG directly to customers," Cheniere President and CEO Jack Fusco said in a statement.
A special permit is needed to send natural gas to countries without a U.S. free trade agreement, a scenario that could present roadblocks for future LNG exports to the European market. Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden lauded natural gas as a strategic asset during a tour of Eastern Europe last year, though President Donald Trump has adopted a more protective trade policy.
European leaders have said LNG sourced from U.S. shale basins could present a source of diversity with the right infrastructure in place. Some countries in Eastern Europe like Poland rely almost exclusively on Russia for natural gas.
A January review of the Polish economy from the International Monetary Fund said the country faces external risks from a European Union threatened by the British exit and possible revisions of U.S. trade policies under President Trump.
Poland, meanwhile, is at loggerheads with Russia over control in its energy sector. Russia is a main supplier of natural gas to the European economy and the country's Gazprom energy company is accused of holding a monopoly over regional services.
Piotr WoĽniak, the president of the Polish company's management board, said sourcing LNG from outside of Europe gave the country a competitive edge.
"We consistently fulfill our strategy of diversifying gas deliveries to Poland," he said. "A future delivery from the USA proves that Poland can become a gateway to Central and Eastern Europe for American LNG."
The cargo from Cheniere is expected at a Polish LNG terminal in the first half of June.