It may be prudent for the natural gas importing nations of Europe to consider building more LNG receiving terminals, or encouraging the development of intra-Europe pipelines that can supply them in case of interruptions from Russia.
If this concern over Russia translates into action, then the planned and proposed US LNG exporters will be the major beneficiaries.
Some 48-million tonnes per annum of LNG capacity has been approved by the US authorities, and the first project, Sabine Pass, is due to start exports next year.
There is a potential for at least 160-million tonnes per annum more of LNG in the US, although the chances of all this being built are extremely remote. This is largely because the LNG exports, as initially envisaged, were targeted at Asian demand, led by China.
But as is often the case in commodity markets, as soon as a supply gap opens up, it is rapidly closed, and then the market gets over-supplied as project developers rush in with apparently little thought as to what their competitors are doing.
However, the possibility of higher LNG imports into Europe may entice some US developers, given they will be more competitive than other potential suppliers to the Old World because of lower transport costs and cheaper shale gas as a feedstock.
US coal miners may also benefit from Europe’s renewed interest in the fuel, as again, they will be able to supply it more cost-effectively.
Russia’s major energy firms, such as Gazprom, are unlikely to want to surrender market share in Europe, hence their efforts to convince buyers that despite the Ukraine conflict, Russia remains a reliable supplier.
But it would be logical for Russian companies to continue to look east, toward China and Southeast Asia, for new customers.