London (CNN Business) — The North Atlantic sea lanes will be very busy this year, as an armada of shipments of natural gas The US is heading to Europe, helping the continent reduce its dependence on Russian energy after the invasion of Ukraine.
The Biden administration said Friday that the United States will work with other suppliers to send an additional 15 billion cubic meters of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the European Union in 2022.
Energy experts say that US LNG export terminals they are running at full speed this year, making it possible to reach the goal of the Biden administration.
“An increase of 15 billion cubic meters over 2021 levels should be achievable, especially if we continue to see the strong flows we have seen so far this year,” say commodity strategists at Dutch bank ING.
How much gas are we talking about? An increase of 15 billion cubic meters will not come close to replacing Russia’s gas imports from Europe, which totaled about 155 billion cubic meters in 2021.
But it is a start.
“15 billion cubic meters of LNG is a huge figure. It is equal to a sixth of Germany’s annual gas demand,” said Alex Froley, liquefied natural gas analyst at Independent Commodity Intelligence Services.
Let’s remember: liquefied natural gas is not transported by gas pipelines. Instead, the gas is cooled to a liquid and loaded onto ships. Sending an additional 15 billion cubic meters to Europe would mean 150 more shipments from ships crossing the Atlantic.
It is remarkable that the United States is in a position to help Europe.
The United States shipped its first shipment of liquefied natural gas from the lower 48 states in 2016, and has become the world’s top exporter in just six years as a shale gas revolution boosted domestic production and turned the country into a a powerful force in world energy markets.
In December, the United States exported more LNG than rival producers Qatar and Australia for the first time and will remain the world’s largest exporter through 2022, according to the US Energy Information Agency.
The United States will add even more capacity in the coming years.
“The United States has abundant gas supplies, a broadly supportive political and regulatory environment, and an experienced and capable construction industry, making it one of the most attractive places to develop new export capacity,” said Ed Crooks, by Woods Mackenzie, earlier this year.
The huge rise in gas prices in Europe was attracting more US shipments even before the Biden administration’s announcement on Friday.
The European Union imported more than 12 billion cubic meters of LNG from the United States in the first three months of the year, compared to 4 billion cubic meters in the same period of 2021, according to Froley.
That means the United States is already way ahead of Biden’s goal.