U.S. State Department expresses clear opposition to Russian plans to twin the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline to Europe. Photo courtesy of Gazprom
March 21 (UPI) -- Building the second leg of the Russian gas pipeline running through the Baltic Sea would threaten European energy security, the U.S. government said.
A bipartisan group of 39 senators sent a letter last week to the U.S. Treasury Department expressing opposition to Russian plans to twin the Nord Stream pipeline to Germany. If built, it would leave U.S. allies in Europe more exposed to the Kremlin's "malign influence," the letter read.
Global energy demand is expected to increase by about 16 percent by 2030 and, even as the world's economy shifts toward renewable energy resources, oil and gas will still account for more than half of the demand. For natural gas, the global appetite swells 23 percent by 2030, beating the expected demand for crude oil.
European markets get about 20 percent of their gas supplies from Russia. The Russian natural gas company Gazprom wants to double Nord Stream to help meet demand, though European leaders have expressed anti-trust concerns because Gazprom controls both the transit network and the supplies.
Heather Nauert, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, said any company that engages in the project could run afoul of the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which imposed sanctions last year on Iran, Russia, and North Korea.
"We oppose the Nord Stream 2 project," she said during a regular press briefing. "We believe [it] would undermine Europe's overall energy security and stability."
Austria energy company OMV, a partner to the project, said last week that Nord Stream is "of critical strategic importance ... as it will secure consistent, long-term gas supplies to Europe."
European countries like Poland have few resources of their own, leaving them dependant on countries like Russia for energy supplies. Norway is the second-largest supplier to the European market behind Russia.
U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., one of the signatories of the letter to the Treasury Department, is pushing his Small Scale LNG Access Act, which would facilitate the approval process for low-volume liquefied natural gas projects in the United States.
Looking for options because it has few resources of its own, European leaders have said LNG sourced from shale basins in the United States could be a source of diversity.