U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hosts European allies to review bilateral concerns about energy security. Both sides said U.S. gas could play a role. Photo by U.S. Department of State/UPI | License Photo
WASHINGTON, May 5 (UPI) -- The United States has an important role to play in adding diversity to a European energy sector that depends heavily on Russia, a joint regional committee said.
European Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete and Vice President Maros Sefcovic led a delegation to Washington D.C. to meet with U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Secretary of State John Kerry to review bilateral energy concerns.
In a joint statement, the committee said it was throwing its support behind Ukrainian energy reforms as Kiev works to pivot closer to the European Union. A former Soviet republic, Ukraine hosts the bulk of the natural gas that Russia sends to the European market. A series of contractual and political disputes reaching back at least 10 years have put that conventional route for gas at risk.
For U.S. allies in Europe, the abundance of natural gas from domestic shale basins could be used as a tool to break the Russian grip on the European economy. Canete said last year liquefied natural gas sourced from U.S. shale basins may present a source of diversity with the right infrastructure in place.
The joint U.S.-EU statement welcomed the start of LNG exports from southern U.S. states, saying it could play an important role in European energy diversification schemes.
"The United States is expected to become a significant natural gas exporter before the end of the current decade," the statement read.
A special permit is needed to send natural gas to companies without a U.S. free trade agreement. The United States has no such agreements with its European allies.
To that end, the council expressed "strong support" for the Southern Gas Corridor, a network of pipelines that would bring natural gas from Azerbaijan to the European market. Some projects under the scheme will start delivering gas by 2019.