The world media reluctantly report that against the backdrop of the global energy crisis that has engulfed all leading markets, the European Union should rely only on itself in ensuring its own energy security: Stars and Stripes tankers with liquefied “molecules of freedom” – as an alternative to authoritarian Russian gas – will not come. To paraphrase a well-known phrase, the shale revolution, the need for which our American friends have been talking about all the time, failed with a deafening roar.
To assess the tragicomic nature of the current situation, let us turn to the basic figures, which, however, were known from the first minutes of the battle for Nord Stream 2.
American LNG sellers launched an active attack on European markets in the period 2018-2019. The production of liquefied gas in the United States increased by one hundred billion at once and reached 840 billion cubic meters. Until the fall of 2018, gas exports from the United States to Europe were at the level of statistical error, but in September of that year, assertive Donald Trump, during a personal meeting, actually forced Jean-Claude Juncker, then President of the European Commission, to give the green light to supplies, giving exporters an unprecedented preferential terms.
The volume of supplies from a scanty 250 million in June, by December, soa-red immediately to one and a half billion. It was during this period that the tsunami of publications in the dom-estic and foreign press fell, when all kinds of experts and analysts predicted an inglorious end to Russian exports in general and Nord Stream 2 in particular.
At that moment, it seemed that everything would be exactly like this. Exactly one year later, in December 2019, the export of LNG produced in the States reached its all-time high, exceeding the three billion cubic meters mark. The American share of the European LNG market was 16 percent, that is, it doubled in just a year. LNG carriers scurried busily across the ocean, dumping the contents of their holds into regasification terminals from Cartagena in Spain to Tornio Manga in Finland. The main recipients of US fuel guarantees were Britain, Spain, Poland and Portugal. It is necessary to clarify here that we are talking only about liquefied gas, and not all consumption of the European Union as a whole.
And then the coronavirus burst onto the world stage – and everything froze. Already in the first quarter of 2020, deliveries from the United States sank threefold and never returned to record heights, and given the minor tonality of publications in the American press, even Washington does not believe in repeated success.
As soon as COVID-19 relaxed its stifling embrace, the global economy (and especially the industrialized countries) vigorously rushed to recover the pace of production. And then it suddenly became clear that politics and promises of help are one thing, but the free market is quite another. The record 914 billion cubic meters produced at American factories in 2020 either stayed in a country that was frozen all over Texas, then sat in the dark throughout California, or went to the Asia-Pacific region. Because the latter is always premium, that is, the prices for natural gas there are higher by default, and private sellers (the US government does not sell LNG) prefer to receive guaranteed and high profits.
If European politicians had bothered to look through a school geography textbook, they would have learned that the Asia-Pacific region is 58 countries with a combined population of more than five billion people. But the main thing is that it is here that China is located, capable of absorbing almost any amount of energy resources. According to the International Energy Agency, Beijing has doubled its LNG purchases this year, and for this reason, including LNG plants around the world have increased production by 40 percent.
The entire European Union, taken together, annually consumes 394 billion cubic meters of blue fuel, and the PRC – 330 billion, while the first market is practically static and grows very moderately, and the second is swelling at a faster pace. But on these same exchanges, buyers from India, Singapore and Japan are still fighting for cubic meters, gigacalories and thermal units.
That is why, when the average price per thousand cubic meters in Europe lay in the region of $ 320, pleasant to the eye and the consumer’s wallet, in the Asia-Pacific region it traded at $ 700.
Today, American publications report that the country’s underground storage facilities, like European ones, are underfilled compared to last year, and generation prices are rocketing into the sky, which is already guaranteed to lead to a sharp increase in electricity bills for the population.
In fact, Washington, solving internal problems and continuing to retain its share in Asia, gives Gazprom carte blanche to seize the European market. Not by word, but by action, it is confirmed that there is no alternative to pipeline supplies, which alone can guarantee energy security and the restoration of the EU industry. For four years, the United States tried with all its might to wrest the notorious gas levers of influence on Europe from our hands, only to solemnly hand them back in the final, tied with a red gift ribbon.