The U.S. and the EU have announced a major deal on liquified natural gas, in an attempt to reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian energy.
The agreement will see the U.S. provide the EU with extra gas, equivalent to around 10% of the gas it currently gets from Russia, by the end of the year, the BBC reports.
The bloc has already said it will cut Russian gas use in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia currently supplies about 40% of the EU’s gas needs.
The new deal will involve the U.S. and other countries supplying an extra 15 billion cubic metres of gas on top of last year’s 22 billion cubic metres.
The new total will represent around 24% of the gas currently imported from Russia. The eventual aim is for the U.S. and international partners to provide about 50 billion cubic metres per year to the EU.
Cutting reliance on Russia will mean generating more renewable energy, and improving energy efficiency, as well as increasing imports.
The deal was announced on Friday during a three-day visit by President Joe Biden to Brussels. Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen discussed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and offered fresh support to Kyiv.
“Putin is using Russia’s energy resources to coerce and manipulate its neighbours,” Biden told reporters in Brussels. “He’s used the profits to drive his war machine.”
He said the long-term benefits of the deal would outweigh the short-term pain that reducing Russian gas supplies would cause.
“I know that eliminating Russian gas will have costs for Europe, but it’s not only the right thing to do from a moral standpoint, it’s going to put us on a much stronger strategic footing.”
von der Leyen said: “We want, as Europeans, to diversify away from Russia towards suppliers that we trust that are friends and that are reliable.”
She pointed out that the target 50 billion cubic metres per year “is replacing one-third already of the Russian gas going to Europe today. So we are right on track now to diversify away from Russian gas.”