Hot topics | Coronavirus pandemic

Exclusive: In the event of a Russian-Ukraine conflict, the US ties to energy companies on EU gas supply

Exclusive: In the event of a Russian-Ukraine conflict, the US ties to energy companies on EU gas supply

If Russia and Ukraine's conflict destroy Russian supplies, the US has held discussions with several international energy companies, according to two official officials and two industry sources.

Russia is concerned about the country that it invaded in 2014. Russia denies plans to attack Ukraine.

Nearly a third of its gas supplies are being handled by Russia, and US sanctions could stop that supply.

Any interruptions to Russia's gas supply to Europe would worsen the energy crisis caused by a shortage of fuel. Record power prices have increased consumer energy bills as well as business costs and sparked protests in some countries.

Officials from the State Department approached the companies to inquire where additional supplies might come from if they were needed, according to two industry sources familiar with the discussions. They were speaking on the condition of anonymity because to the nature of the matter.

According to industry sources, the companies told US officials that global gas supplies are tight and there is little gas available to replace large volumes from Russia.

A senior advisor for energy security, Amos Hochstein, was at the State Department in discussions with energy companies, according to a senior official.

"We've discussed a range of issues, and we've talked about everything we're doing with our nation state partners and allies," the source said.

"We've done this with the European Commission, but we've also done it with energy companies. It's correct to say that we've spoken to them about our concerns and discussed a range of issues, but there wasn't any kind of answer when it comes to production."

Officials in the United States have asked companies what capacity they needed to increase supplies, and whether they could postpone field maintenance if necessary, according to sources.

Royal Dutch Shell, ConocoPhillips, and Exxon resigned from their job when asked if they had been contacted. Chevron Corp, Total, Equinor, and Qatar Energy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A second industry source said his company was asked if it would be able to postpone maintenance at gas fields if necessary.

A spokesperson for the National Security Council of the United States would not comment on U.S. discussions with energy companies, but confirmed contingency planning was underway.

"Good governance and standard practice are the tools to assess potential spillovers, according to the spokesperson.

"Any detail in this regard that make their way to the public only demonstrates the extensive detail and serenity with which we are discussing and are willing to adopt significant measures with our partners."

Following the confiscation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in 2014 and the support of separatists fighting Kyiv troops in eastern Ukraine, Moscow has alarmed the West.

Biden previously advised Russian President Vladimir Putin that a fresh Russian action on Ukraine would put sanctions on him and a higher US presence in Europe.

Russia defends its desire to attaque Ukraine and claims to have the right to escalate troops on its own soil as it likes.

"If there is a power shortage due to conflict or sanctions, the United States will have Europe's back," the second industry source said.

"Amos is going to large LNG producing companies and countries like Qatar to see if they can help the United States," he added, referenced to Hochstein.

If pipeline supplies from Russia to Europe are reduced, European buyers would need to supply cargoes of superchilled gas to compensate.

Exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States and Qatar will surge this year, bringing it to the forefront of the world's largest LNG supplier.

Our Standards:

You may also like: