Brussels – 7 March: A new analysis of EU gas imports by Food & Water Action Europe and Gastivists finds that fracked US gas could represent as much as one eighth of all gas the EU consumed in 2022. This LNG boom is locking Europe into fossil fuel dependency and sky high costs to pay hundreds of billions of Euros for gas imports and gas infrastructure.
The EU imported 55 billion cubic metres (bcm) of dirty US LNG in 2022. The top US LNG importers in the EU in 2022 were France with 15.6bcm, followed by Spain with 12.3bcm and The Netherlands with 10.9bcm. The top gas importers relative to their national 2022 gas demand were Lithuania (US imports represent 135% of the national consumption) followed by Croatia (74%).
“The looming climate crisis, the cost of living crisis and the weaponization of fossil fuels are all linked to fossil gas,” said Frida Kieninger, Director of EU Affairs at Food & Water Action Europe. “As energy poverty continues to rise, the EU is going all in on deepening its dangerous, costly LNG dependency. Doubling imports of fracked US gas, one of the most polluting fossil fuels, is a horrible decision that threatens our climate goals and creates more air and water pollution in communities that are suffering from the effects of fracking.”
Six of the 10 LNG importing countries analysed in the new report have moratoria or outright bans on the brutal method of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, used to extract oil and gas from the ground. Still, there is no restriction in any of these states on importing fracked fossil fuels, despite the outrageously high methane emissions and air and water pollution linked to them.
The abrupt policy shift towards fossil fuel imports appears to be far beyond what was imagined just months ago. US gas import volumes of 55 bcm show that the EU-US deal struck in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, has been more than overshot: The EU imported more than three times as much US LNG as agreed in spring last year.
This greed for LNG, coupled with its considerable economic power, has turned the EU into a dangerous gas bully on the global LNG market. Plans for increasing EU import capacity in the next years amount to mind-boggling 195 billion cubic metres, with 50 bcm planned for 2023. In contrast, the entire global additional LNG supply for 2023 is expected to only amount to 20bcm. This has already wreaked havoc on international markets; EU countries can offer more money for shipments than many other countries that are dependent on LNG, provoking blackouts in Pakistan and fears in poorer import countries that LNG suppliers will break their contracts to go for a higher bidder.
Instead of delivering billions to LNG polluters, advocates urge political leaders to rapidly scale up renewables and energy efficiency. These clean, cheap and proven solutions could terminate Europe’s dirty, costly fossil dependency and provide a way out of the climate and energy crisis.