Senior officials of the EU’s two biggest powers, France and Germany, have accused the US of overcharging for liquefied natural gas (LNG) and using the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis to turn a profit and make Europe dependent on its gas.
Before the war in Ukraine, Russia was Europe’s biggest natural gas supplier, with a share of 55%, mainly due to lower prices compared to LNG deliveries. However, after the war broke out Europe began to introduce sanctions against Russia, reducing purchases from Gazprom, while the Russian state-owned energy giant responded by decreasing its gas deliveries to EU countries.
The EU was forced to start importing LNG, from the US as well as other countries, but the US’ share has increased sharply, from 28% to 45%. On the other hand, deliveries from Russia have dropped by 75%.
The US has been criticized by French Finance Minister Bruno Le Mair and German Economy Minister Robert Habeck.
Le Mair recently told French MPs that the conflict in Ukraine must not result in the US’ economic domination and a weakened Europe.
The US should not be allowed to dominate the global energy market as the EU suffers the consequences of the conflict in Ukraine, said Le Mair.
He also said it is unacceptable to let the US export LNG at prices four times higher than those paid by companies in the country. The French minister also called for establishing a more balanced relationship between the US and Europe.
Habeck: even some friendly countries are charging astronomical prices for gas
Habeck accused LNG exporters, including the US, of charging too much for gas at the time when Europe’s biggest economy is struggling to balance its energy mix without Russian supplies and when German companies are closing down manufacturing facilities due to high gas costs, according to reports.
Habeck told Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung that some nations, even friendly ones, are in some cases charging “astronomical prices,” adding that this situation has created problems that need to be talked about.
He recalled that the US turned to the EU when crude oil costs were jumping, and that Europe’s national reserves were then used to tame the prices. Such solidarity, according to him, would also be good for curbing gas prices, he said.
Habeck also called on the EU to synchronize gas purchases in order to bring the prices down, instead of having individual countries outbidding each other and thus pushing the prices up.