US seeking ways to profit should Russia-Ukraine conflict break out – reports
Washington is predicting a probable military assault despite firm denials by Russia
The US State Department has reportedly held talks with international energy majors on the possibility of contingency supplies of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe if conflict between Russia and Ukraine disrupts deliveries.
Over the past several months, the White House has repeatedly expressed the concern that Russia is preparing to launch a military assault on Ukraine. Russia has made it clear it has no such plans.
The US administration has threatened Moscow with another round of “crippling” sanctions in the event of a conflict between the neighboring states.
The imposition of penalties could disrupt the supply of Russian LNG to Europe, which accounts for about a third of European energy imports, and would inevitably exacerbate the energy crisis that has recently hit the region.
Representatives of the State Department have therefore been negotiating to secure alternative energy supply sources in case they are needed, according to industry sources and US officials cited by Reuters. The discussions were reportedly led by the senior adviser for energy security, Amos Hochstein.
“We’ve discussed a range of contingencies … with our nation state partners and allies,” the unnamed source told the agency on Friday.
“We’ve done this with the European Commission, but we’ve also done it with energy companies. It’s accurate to say that we’ve spoken to them about our concerns and … about a range of contingencies, but there wasn’t any sort of ask when it comes to production,” they added.
Energy corporations have reportedly warned US government officials about the tightness of LNG supplies across the world, saying there is little gas available to substitute the large volumes commonly shipped by Russia.
“The United States promised to have Europe’s back if there was an energy shortage due to conflict or sanctions. Amos is going to big LNG-producing companies and countries like Qatar to see if they can help the United States,” the sources said.
Reuters is reporting that the US National Security Council has confirmed that contingency planning is underway.
“Assessing potential spillovers, and exploring ways to reduce those spillovers, is good governance and standard practice,” a spokesperson told the agency.
“Any details in this regard that make their way to the public only demonstrate the extensive … seriousness with which we are discussing … significant measures with our allies and partners.”
The US has been aggressively ramping up exports of LNG. In December, the country became the world’s top exporter of the fuel for the first time ever, thanks to surging deliveries to energy-starved Europe.
Last week, German European Affairs Minister Michael Roth said harsh criticism expressed by the US over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, led by Russia’s Gazprom, can be mainly attributed to Washington’s ambition to sell more of its own expensive LNG to European consumers.
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