(Bloomberg) -- A political deal between President Joe Biden and the European Union will pave the way for additional imports of liquefied natural gas from the U.S. to help the bloc replace Russian imports of the fuel, a senior EU official said.
Biden, who joined EU leaders at a summit in a bid to showcase a common resolve against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, will announce the agreement together with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Friday morning, according to the official. LNG imports from Russia, the EU’s biggest energy supplier, stood at around 14 billion to 18 billion cubic meters annually in the past years.
“We are taking further, concrete steps in our energy cooperation to ensure the security of supply and to reduce dependence on Russian fossil fuels,” Biden and von der Leyen said in a joint statement late on Thursday in Brussels.
The EU-U.S. deal will provide a political platform for commercial agreements that will need to follow for shipments to begin. The 27-nation bloc is aiming to replace this year nearly two-thirds of its total gas imports from Russia, which amounted to 155 billion cubic meters last year, after the war waged by President Vladimir Putin forced an unprecedented re-think of the bloc’s energy strategy.
“We are working with the EU to support Europe’s energy security and to accelerate the global transition to clean energy,” Saloni Sharma, a spokeswoman for the U.S. National Security Council, said Thursday. “We will have more on this tomorrow.”
The additional imports from the U.S. will take time to start, with Europe constrained by the current regassification capacity, number of terminals and interconnectors, said the EU official, who asked not to be identified commenting on private talks. In the medium term, the U.S. would explore options to increase production and the EU will pursue ways to reduce energy consumption.
The new European energy strategy, outlined by the commission earlier this month, aims to replace 101.5 billion cubic meters of Russian gas in 2022 by tapping alternative supply sources, building up renewables and boosting energy security. It seeks to ensure 50 billion cubic meters in LNG from new suppliers.
Imports of the fuel from the U.S. have risen exponentially amid the European energy crisis, which started a couple of months before the war amid limited flows from Russia. In 2021, transatlantic deliveries of LNG were at around 22 billion cubic meters. In January 2022, they stood at 4.4 billion cubic meters.
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