EU-U.S. Joint Statement: Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) imports from the U.S. continue to rise, up by 181%
Since their Joint Statement of 25 July 2018 in Washington D.C., when President Juncker and President Trump agreed to strengthen EU-U.S. strategic cooperation including in the area of energy, EU imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the U.S. have increased by 181%. The firstEU-U.S. Energy Council High-Level Forum will take place on 2 May 2019 in Brussels.
The release of these new LNG figures coincides with European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström's and Secretary-General Martin Selmayr's visit to Washington this week for meetings with their U.S. counterparts within the Executive Working Group. The implementation of the different elements of the Joint Statement of Presidents Juncker and Trump was one of the topics addressed. The recent developments on LNG trade attest to the European Union's continued commitment to deliver on all aspects of the 25 July agreement.
With a share of 12,6% of EU-LNG imports in 2019 so far, the U.S. is Europe's third biggest supplier of LNG. The European Union is ready to facilitate more imports of liquefied natural gas from the U.S., if the market conditions are right and prices competitive. This will allow U.S. exporters to further diversify their European markets whilst contributing to the EU's objectives of security of supply and diversification. Currently, U.S. legislation still requires prior regulatory approval for liquefied natural gas exports to Europe. These restrictions need to be addressed and U.S. rules made easier for U.S. liquefied natural gas to be exported in larger quantities to the EU.
Current figures show that:
- Compared to the period before the 25 July 2018 Joint Statement, cumulative EU imports of U.S. LNG are up by 181% at 7.9 billion cubic meters until early March 2019;
- In terms of the EU's total imports of LNG, the U.S. share was 12%, over the last six months, compared to 2.3% before the Joint Statement and since the first U.S. LNG cargo to Europe in April 2016.
- In the month of January 2019, EU imports of U.S. LNG from the U.S. were 1.3 billion cubic meters, up from 102 million cubic meterscompared to the same month in 2018. In February 2019 total U.S. LNG imports amounted to 0.6 billion cubic meters.
To further explore and discuss the strengthening of the transatlantic strategic cooperation with respect to energy, as agreed in the July 2018 Joint Statement, the EU and the United States are organising the first EU-U.S. Energy Council High-Level Forum in Brussels. The event will take place on 2 May under the theme: “Towards large-scale U.S. LNG exports to the EU's gas market: competitive pricing, infrastructure investments and technological innovation”.
The EU has co-financed or committed to co-finance LNG infrastructure projects worth over €656 million (see list of projects in Annex 2). In addition to the existing 150 billion cubic meters of spare capacity in the EU, the EU is supporting eight LNG projects, which will increase capacity by another 22 billion cubic meters by 2023.
The Commission continues to deliver on the 25 July 2018 agreement. On 18 January 2019 the Commission adopted proposals for negotiating directives for its trade talks with the United States: one on conformity assessment and one on the elimination of tariffs for industrial goods.
Imports of U.S. soya beans by the European Union increased by 112% over the current market year (July-December 2018), compared to the same period in the previous year. With a share of 75% of EU soya beans imports, the U.S. remains Europe's number one supplier.
European imports of U.S. soya beans are bound to increase even further, following the decision by the European Commission to authorise the use of U.S. soya beans for biofuels.
The global liquefied natural gas market is becoming increasingly fluid and competitive. Between 2017 and 2023, global liquefied natural gas trade is expected to grow by more than 100 billion cubic meters, from 391 to 505.The International Energy Agency expects liquefied natural gas imports to Europe to increase by almost 20% by 2040 compared to 2016 levels.
The increasing gas production in the U.S. and the start of U.S. liquefied natural gas exports to the EU in 2016 have improved the security of gas supply in Europe and globally. Europe is currently importing around 70% of the gas it needs, and this share is expected to increase in the coming years. Liquefied natural gas is also an important part of the EU's diversification strategy; and as the second biggest single gas market in the world after the U.S., the EU is therefore an attractive option for the U.S. In order to increase imports to Europe further, U.S. prices for liquefied natural gas need to be competitive on the EU market. In addition, the following actions are key to facilitating imports:
Development of liquefied natural gas capacities in the EU and in the U.S.:
The EU has well developed liquefied natural gas import capacities, with about 150 billion cubic meters currently spare. At the same time, given their strategic importance for diversification, current capacities are being expanded and new capacities are being developed in the Adriatic Sea (on the island of Krk in Croatia), in the Baltic Sea, notably in Poland, and in the Mediterranean Sea in Greece. This would allow for a significant increase of liquefied natural gas imports to the EU.
The U.S. currently has 39 billion cubic meters of liquefaction capacity and is foreseen to add a further 80 billion cubic meters by 2023, while expanding its liquefied natural gas export terminals.
- Regulatory restrictions by the U.S. need to be lifted. The EU has no non-market barriers for U.S. natural gas coming to the EU. The EU is seeking similar treatment from the U.S. side, in particular as regards the removal of the requirement for prior approval of liquefied natural gas exports to the EU.
The current figures show that imports of U.S. liquefied natural gas to the EU have been increasing:
- Since the first shipment of U.S. liquefied natural gas to the EU in April 2016, today EU imports of liquefied natural gas from the United States have already reached 7.9 billion cubic meters (bcm).
- Since early 2016, the EU has received around 85 liquefied natural gas cargoes from the U.S. In 2017 Europe represented more than 10% of total U.S. LNG exports, up from 5% in 2016. In 2018 as whole, the share of Europe in the U.S. LNG exports was 11%, however, taking into account the time since the Joint Statement only, Europe represented a share of nearly 26%.
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