Europe-US LNG Roundtable II
LNG Allies and our partners and financial supporters held a second Europe-US LNG Roundtable in early November, bringing together representatives from six of North America’s LNG exporting companies and six major European gas consumers and more than 70 observers. The session, held on Capitol Hill during the afternoon of Nov. 04, built upon the progress made during the first LNG Roundtable in Brussels on May 27-28, 2015.
Organizing Partners and Supporters
LNG Allies was the lead organizer for both Roundtables and was assisted by Central Europe Energy Partners (CEEP) and A. T. Kearny (in Brussels). Financial support for the meeting was provided by the American Petroleum Institute, America’s Natural Gas Alliance (both through LNG Allies), and Grupa LOTOS, S.A. (in-kind). K&L Gates also provided an attorney (on a pro bono basis) to ensure compliance with U.S. antitrust laws.
Messages from Government Leaders
Mr. Maroš Šefčovič, Vice President for Energy Union, European Commission (who was present at the first Roundtable in Brussels) delivered a strong welcoming statement via video, explaining some of the steps that the EU is taking to build a fully functioning Energy Union and a more liquid natural gas market. Following that video message, two EU ambassadors to the United States — H. E. Joško Paro (Croatia) and H. E. Ryszard Schnepf (Poland) — welcomed the commercial participants and observers. The assembly then heard from MEP Jerzy Buzek, Chairman of the European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research, and Energy. Chairman Buzek — who chaired the initial session inside the Parliament during the Brussels summit — encouraged the industry representatives to take the necessary steps to forge strong and extensive commercial relationships.
The European delegation was led by CEEP and included senior leaders from Achema Group, A. T. Kearney, Energa S.A., Grupa LOTOS S.A., UAB LITGAS, LNG Hrvatska d.o.o., and PERN “Przyjaźń” S.A. The key message delivered by this group was that several major gas consumers (primarily in Poland and Lithuania) plan to stand-up a company to facilitate negotiations with U.S. LNG exporters about potential LNG contracts. This “buyer’s group,” plans to issue a formal “Request for Information,” sometime in early 2016. Following discussion about the RFI, each EU company briefly described the nature of their business, including natural gas demand. The EU participants then answered questions from the moderators, U.S. participants, and the audience at large.
The U.S. delegation was organized by LNG Allies and included high-level representatives from Annova LNG, Cheniere Energy, Fairwood LNG, Golden Pass Products, LNG Ltd., and NextDecade. Each of these firms described their company and its planned LNG export projects. An extensive question and answer period followed during which the U.S. companies responded to inquiries from the European-side and the audience. During this period it became obvious that the six U.S. LNG export companies have very diverse conceptual and marketing approaches, but all are moving diligently toward final investment decisions, subject, of course, to pending U.S. government environmental and export licenses.
Ms. Caroline Vicini, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Delegation of the European Union to the United States delivered the final address. She made a persuasive case that a free trade agreement (FTA) between the U.S. and the EU would help to facilitate the flow of American gas to Europe. This would occur either through a separate “energy chapter” in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), as the EU desires, or simply by inclusion within TTIP of the “national treatment of natural gas.” Either outcome would bypass the requirement under U.S. law that LNG exports to nations which do not have FTAs (that include the national trade in natural gas) are subjected to a “public interest” review by the U.S. Secretary of Energy.
Fred H. Hutchison
Executive Director, LNG Allies