US LNG has eclipsed Russian pipelines for the first time as a source of natural gas for Europe, IEA says

·2 min read
Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden meet in 2021
Russia's President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden.Mikhail Metzel\TASS via Getty Images
  • US LNG supplies to Europe eclipsed Russian pipeline flows for the first time, the IEA's chief tweeted.

  • "The drop in Russian supply calls for efforts to reduce EU demand to prepare for a tough winter," Fatih Birol said.

  • The Kremlin has been cutting flows via the Nord Stream pipeline in recent weeks.

US liquefied natural gas exports to Europe overtook Russian pipeline flows for the first time last month, according to the International Energy Agency's chief.

Russian supply accounted for one-third of Europe's gas demand last year, but the Kremlin has been curbing flows via the Nord Stream pipeline. Meanwhile, Europe has turned to the US as an alternative to Russian gas after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

"Russia's recent steep cuts in natural gas flows to the EU mean this is the 1st month in history in which the EU has imported more gas via LNG from the US than via pipeline from Russia. The drop in Russian supply calls for efforts to reduce EU demand to prepare for a tough winter," IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol tweeted on Thursday.

US exports of LNG are steadily ticking up even after a fire at the Texas-based Freeport export terminal suffered damage from a fire that shuttered the facility.

But when accounting for overall gas flows, Russia may still be a bigger supplier to Europe than the US. Russia was the third-largest supplier of LNG to Europe in 2021 behind the US and Qatar, Bloomberg noted.

The US overtook Russian liquefied natural gas flows to Europe for the first time amid an energy crunch
Faith Birol via Twitter

The US began exporting LNG in 2016 in an effort to diversify energy trade. LNG is cooled down to freezing temperatures for ease of storage and transport as it only takes up a fraction of the space that general natural gas does.

And Europe is growing more dependent on US-sourced LNG after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, as the EU agreed earlier this year to an additional 15 billion cubic meters of the super-chilled gas to alleviate a lack of Russian supply.

The EU is pushing even further now and wants to fully replace its one-third dependence on Russian flows from sources across the globe. Russia averaged roughly 150 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe annually, and an additional 14 million to 18 million cubic meters of LNG.

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