The delivery of liquefied shale gas from the United States to Europe could redraw the entire geopolitical energy map.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the United States, which has huge gas surpluses as a result of the boom in shale gas production, is interested in exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) to its European North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) partners. The European Commission welcomes the decision, on one condition, said Marlene Holzner, spokeswoman for Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger, on 19 December: the LNG exports must be available to all 27 EU member states, not just the 21 NATO members. While the decision is still being debated across the Atlantic, the delivery of LNG to Europe could redraw the entire geopolitical energy map.
Map of LNG Terminals in Europe
LNG – NEW STAR?
The changes might start with the South Corridor, still being negotiated by the Commission with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, for the delivery of gas from the Caspian Sea to Europe. This plan, meant to reduce EU dependence on Russian gas, has always been supported if not prompted by the American authorities. It still is, judging from the joint statement released at the conclusion of the EU-US Energy Council, held on 5 December in Brussels. The corridor’s final route is expected to be announced in 2013 with the choice of one of the two options for delivery of shale gas from the Turkey-Bulgaria border to the EU: Nabucco West or TAP (Trans-Adriatic Pipeline). Whichever route is selected, the South Corridor project has fierce competition from South Stream, designed to deliver “reliable” Russian gas via the Black Sea, thus avoiding Ukraine, held responsible for the cut-off of gas earmarked for the EU in 2009. The route for the Russian gas pipeline is virtually identical to the Nabucco West route from the Bulgarian border: Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia, Austria and even Italy.