US, Allies Hunting for Surplus Gas to Fuel Europe in Event of Ukraine Conflict
A senior Biden administration official told reporters last month that the US was exploring options to secure natural gas for European allies in the event of a conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Washington has threatened additional sanctions on Russia in the event that Moscow slashes its oil and gas exports.
As fears of a possible Ukraine military conflict persist, the US has reached out to China to inquire about surplus national gas supplies, according to a new Bloomberg report citing individuals familiar with the matter.
Sources noted that talks with China have been limited of late, and have not resulted in any official agreements.
Additionally, US and European officials from allied nations have reached out to several other Asian countries, including Japan, South Korea, and India, to inquire about potentially diverting surplus natural gas supplies to Europe.
The hunt for natural gas in the current market is a difficult task, as no producer has expressed the ability to extract additional fuel at a short notice.
As a result, Amos Hochstein, the US State Department's senior adviser for energy security, is leading the Biden administration in soliciting gas consumers about potentially forgoing fuel deliveries that could be diverted to Europe.
Hochstein previously served as a Special Envoy for Coordinator for International Energy Affairs during the Obama administration.
© AP Photo / Pablo Martinez Monsivais In this Jan. 26, 2015 file photo, Vice President Joe Biden, left, talks with State Department Special Envoy for International Energy Affairs Amos Hochstein during the Caribbean Energy Security Summit, at the State Department in Washington.
In this Jan. 26, 2015 file photo, Vice President Joe Biden, left, talks with State Department Special Envoy for International Energy Affairs Amos Hochstein during the Caribbean Energy Security Summit, at the State Department in Washington.
© AP Photo / Pablo Martinez Monsivais
Washington's plans are based on a fear that Russia could invade Ukraine, a move that has repeatedly been denied by Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin.
Nevertheless, the US and some of its European allies continue to insist that Moscow may carry out such an attack, and respond to retaliatory economic sanctions by eliminating or slashing natural gas exports to Europe. Europe relies on Russia for approximately 40% of its fuel supplies.
News of the US reportedly reaching out to China about fuel supplies comes a week after the search was announced, and just days after US President Joe Biden claimed the US was "ready no matter what happens" with regard to Ukraine.
"We’ve been working to identify additional volumes of non-Russian natural gas from various areas of the world from North Africa and the Middle East to Asia and the United States," a senior Biden administration official told reporters last week.
"If Russia decides to weaponize its supply of natural gas or crude oil, it wouldn’t be without consequences to the Russian economy," claimed a second official.