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Juni – July 2016 – n°42

Amos Hochstein, Special Envoy, Bureau of Energy Resources, US Department of State

Energy Diplomacy

The United States and the EU: working together to shape the world’s energy future

The longstanding partnership between the United States and Europe strengthens our economic prosperity, collective security, and the common values that sustain us. This is not a cliché, and in today’s environment, it can’t be overstated. Within that context, energy embodies all three of the abovementioned parameters. These shared principles anchor energy cooperation between the United States and Europe. That’s why Secretary of State Clinton seven years ago established the U.S.-EU Energy Council – to serve as the framework for our joint efforts to enhance energy security. Over time, this relationship has moved beyond annual Council meetings and has blossomed into a close day-to-day collaborative working relationship based our shared commitment to advancing energy diversification and security in Europe.

Our work over the past seven years is bearing fruit. Research and development has led to technological advances in clean and efficient energy, as well as in oil and gas. Advances in LNG technology now allow countries to bring floating import terminals online in as little as 12 months. The United States – thanks to the shale gas revolution – is now a gas exporter to Europe and many other countries around the world. These achievements have greatly contributed to Europe’s energy security and diversification goals. This is no more evident than in the realization of key infrastructure projects such as the Southern Gas Corridor to deliver gas to Europe from Azerbaijan and the Caspian through Turkey, LNG terminals in Lithuania and Poland, and critical interconnection projects such as the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria throughout South Eastern Europe. In addition, we are working together outside of Europe to connect the world’s energy markets. Our joint work in North Africa, particularly in Algeria and Libya, as well as the progress seen in development of off shore resources in Israel, Egypt and Cyprus will ensure gas supplies to Europe are secure.

Nowhere is this more important than in Ukraine, which has seen repeatedly the effects of reliance on a single supplier of energy. Ukraine in 2006, 2009, and 2014 experienced firsthand the consequences of Russia’s use of energy as a weapon and tool for political leverage. And it has taken steps to reduce this vulnerability. As a result of our continued commitment, Ukraine last year purchased more gas from Europe than it did from Russia – the first time in Ukraine’s history. This could only happen due to implementation of the Third Energy Package, along with developing the necessary infrastructure, to promote reverse flow capabilities – and thanks to a tremendous level of commitment and tireless effort of the EU and individual member states. This positive development will be built on for years to come, increasing Ukraine’s and Europe’s energy security.

Though the Ukrainian story is one of progress, the threats to Europe’s energy security and prosperity couldn’t be more real today. Projects such as Nordstream II not only undermine Europe’s own energy unity and diversification goals, but could have a devastating effect on the economies and stability of South Eastern Europe. Additionally, Nordstream II could undermine the economic stability Ukraine, Slovakia, and other countries.

Despite the threats facing European energy security, we can mitigate the risks through our collaborative work with our European partners. For example, technical advances in floating LNG terminals can help alleviate these threats by enabling countries to diversify their energy supply away from onshore pipelines, with the added benefit of allowing consumers to benefit from affordable and reliable prices. Europe needs to develop the infrastructure that allows all countries to have access to LNG supplies in order to make this a reality.

The European Commission should be commended for its Energy Union Framework Strategy, and in particular this year’s LNG strategy, which seeks to bolster Europe’s energy security by promoting the use of LNG and critical interconnection infrastructure for open and free movement of gas. Should Europe successfully implement these strategies, it will make energy insecurity a thing of the past. We need to continue our close cooperation on energy – focusing on making energy a tool of cooperation, not a tool of division. If we can do that, the United States and the EU together can achieve a Europe not just whole, free and at peace, but prosperous and secure, a leader in shaping the world’s energy future.

Amos Hochstein
Special Envoy, Bureau of Energy Resources, US Department of State

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