US, EU to create task force aimed at reducing Europe's dependence on Russian gas amid Ukraine war
The US and EU announced a task force Friday aimed at reducing Europe's reliance on Russian fossil fuels in the face of Moscow's war on Ukraine.
The initiative being unveiled by President Joe Biden and EU chief Ursula von der Leyen will see the US work with partners to strive to supply Europe with an extra 15 billion cubic metres of liquefied natural gas this year, a statement said.
The push comes as EU member states wrangle over calls for the bloc to ban Russia's key energy exports to punish President Vladimir Putin for his invasion of Ukraine.
The Baltics and Poland are urging counterparts to pull the trigger but others, including economic powerhouse Germany, remain reluctant to impose a sudden rupture given their reliance on Russian gas imports.
Germany said Friday it was drastically slashing its energy purchases from Russia amid Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, with oil imports to be halved by June and coal deliveries to end by the autumn.
The EU has already announced ambitious plans to slash its imports of Russian gas by two-thirds this year and eliminate imports entirely before the end of the decade.
As part of the task force the EU's executive said it will work with member states "toward the goal of ensuring, until at least 2030, demand for approximately 50 bcm/year of additional US LNG."
"This Task Force for Energy Security will be chaired by a representative from the White House and a representative of the President of the European Commission," the statement said.
"It will work to ensure energy security for Ukraine and the EU in preparation for next winter and the following one while supporting the EU's goal to end its dependence on Russian fossil fuels".
Europe faces a major task in substituting supplies of Russian gas, with Moscow supplying around 150 billion cubic metres of gas each year.
US gas supplies to the EU accounted for 6.3 percent in first half of 2021, the bloc's statistics agency says.