The Impact of US LNG Exports on Europe

abarrelfullabarrelfull wrote on 09 Dec 2011 06:51

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The attitude of major players in the gas industry to market developments can be bordering on the bizarre. We understand Gazprom's position when they criticise shale gas. After all they have the most to lose out of anyone, if the US success is repeated around the world. But what for example, is e.ons problem?

LNG exports from the US—if and when they happen—based on surplus natural gas from shale development will have little if any effect on the European gas supply scene. That’s according to E.On Energy Trading Chairman Klaus Schafer

On what logic does he base this?

“Natural gas is currently at a price disadvantage to coal in Europe,” he said. Couple that with the likely demand-depressing effects of the ongoing financial crisis and the slow recovery from the 2007-08 global financial collapse, Europe is unlikely to attract much US-produced LNG, no matter how much or how little liquefaction eventually gets built there.

Twisted or what. High prices for gas in Europe means that no-one will consider buying cheaper gas from somewhere else. Like all the Status Quo supporters, he is just talking about how he wants the world to be.

His counterpart in Total, has a different view:

“The US LNG exports will have a tremendous impact worldwide, first in the Southern Cone where Argentina and Chile will be relieved from previously thought skyrocketing prices; secondly it is a real physical back-up for Western Europe (mainly the UK) against any bad news from Qatar’s Ras-Laffan LNG production and thirdly it’s a price signal about a potential convergence of worldwide prices for natural gas.”

Why the difference? e.on is primarily a gas and power company, with large volumes of long term contracts. A real free market would be very difficult to handle. Who cares if gas prices are high, they can easily pass that on to the customers. Total however is a producer of gas, who wants to see the market grow, and so would be very happy to see the oil-gas price linkage broken.

Meanwhile in America, another project gets permission to export LNG. Not that it will have any effect on the world market you understand.

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