U.S. to Move LNG to Help Europe

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U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz indicated that the U.S. will approve more LNG export licenses in an effort to enhance the energy security of Europe. In an interview with Bloomberg News, Sec. Moniz said two more LNG export applications will be approved "fairly soon."

The interview occurred in Rome shortly after his visit to the G-7 conference. Representatives at the G-7 agreed to a call for greater energy diversity, including renewable energy and energy efficiency. Beyond that, there was disagreement. For example, some countries prefer more nuclear power, greater interconnections between EU member states, shale gas, or LNG.

For his part, Sec. Moniz suggested that the U.S. would send more LNG to Europe in the coming years. "They asked me what was our plan with LNG exports, and I told them what our process is and where we are," Moniz said. "The expectation is that the United States will become a substantial natural gas exporter toward the end of this decade."

His comments suggest that the Obama administration is putting much greater weight on geopolitics than in the past. The U.S. must decide whether or not individual LNG export terminals are in the "public interest," but for many of the permits approved last year, that often centered around the economic impact. After the flare up in tensions between Russia, Ukraine, and the West, many members of the U.S. Congress have called on greater LNG exports to help Europe reduce its dependence on Russia. Sec. Moniz's comments point to the fact that the Obama administration agrees.

Still, U.S. LNG exports could be years away. In the meantime, Europe will need to find its own way to enhance its energy security. "No one expects that we can reduce Europe's dependency overnight," U.K. Energy Secretary Ed Davey told Bloomberg News. "There's clearly a lot of investment we can do in everything from energy efficiency to renewables to nuclear, as well as other forms of gas."

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