The U.S. and EU announced a task force on Friday aimed at reducing Europe’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels in the face of Moscow’s war on Ukraine.
The initiative unveiled by President Joe Biden and EU head Ursula von der Leyen will see the U.S. work with partners to work to supply Europe with an additional 15 billion cubic meters of liquefied natural gas this year, a statement said.
The insistence comes as EU member states clash over the bloc’s call to ban Russia’s key energy exports to punish President Vladimir Putin for his aggression on Ukraine.
The Baltics and Poland urged their counterparts to pull the trigger but others, including German economic powers, remained reluctant to impose a sudden break given their dependence on Russian gas imports.
Germany said on Friday that it was drastically reducing its energy purchases from Russia amid Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, with oil imports to be halved by June and coal shipments terminated by autumn.
The EU has already announced ambitious plans to reduce Russian gas imports by two -thirds this year and eliminate imports completely before the end of the decade.
As part of the task force, EU executives said it would work with member states “towards 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 serve to ensure energy security for Ukraine and the EU in preparation for the coming and subsequent winter while supporting the EU’s goal of ending its dependence on Russian fossil fuels.”
Europe faces a huge task in replacing Russia’s gas supply, with Moscow supplying around 150 billion cubic meters of gas annually.
U.S. gas supplies to the EU accounted for 6.3 percent in the first half of 2021, the bloc’s statistics agency said.
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