Aug. 9 (UPI) -- If the price is right, Europe sees U.S. liquefied natural gas as a strategic component of a diverse energy mix, the European president said Thursday.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and U.S. President Donald Trump in late July included considerations for LNG in their bilateral trade relationship. A joint statement from the meeting said European countries want more LNG sourced from U.S. shale basins to diversify the European market.
Europe relies heavily on Norway and Russia for oil and natural gas. Natural gas, from Russia in particular, is a source of tension given anti-trust concerns about Russian energy company Gazprom and the tendency of the Kremlin to use energy as a tool for political influence.
Announcing the implementation of the July agreement, Juncker said Thursday that Europe was ready to move on U.S. LNG.
"The growing exports of U.S. liquefied natural gas, if priced competitively, could play an increasing and strategic role in EU gas supply," he said in a statement. "But the U.S. needs to play its role in doing away with red tape restrictions on liquefied natural gas exports."
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported total LNG exports quadrupled in 2017 from the previous year. All of the LNG shipped from the United States came from the Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana, reaching more than two dozen countries.
Four more terminals are expected online within the next two years, boosting export capacity from 1.94 billion cubic feet per day last year to 9.6 billion cubic feet per day.
The U.S. National Defense Authorization Act, meanwhile, states that U.S. efforts should promote energy security in Europe, noting Russia uses energy "as a weapon to coerce, intimidate and influence" countries in the region.
Gazprom has countered, however, that LNG from the United States isn't competitive because of higher production and transit costs. Exports are restricted, meanwhile, by the lack of free trade agreements between the United States and European countries.
"Currently, U.S. legislation still requires prior regulatory approval for liquefied natural gas exports to Europe," the European Commission stated. "These restrictions need to be addressed and U.S. rules made easier for U.S. liquefied natural gas to be exported to the EU."