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Exclusive talks with US power companies on EU gas supply in Russia-Ukraine conflict – source Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: In this kitchen you can see the flames of a gas burner in this photo illustration taken on February 1, 2017 in a private home in Nice (France). Photo taken February 1, 2017. REUTERS / Eric Gaillard

By Dmitry Zhdannikov, Ron Bousso, Simon Lewis and Timothy Gardner

LONDON / WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The US government has spoken to several international energy companies about plans to supply Europe with a Russian-Ukrainian conflict that would cut off Russian supplies, two US officials and two industry sources told Reuters on Friday.

The United States is concerned that Russia is preparing for a new military offensive against the country that invaded Russia in 2014. Russia denies plans to attack Ukraine.

The European Union is dependent on Russia for about a third of its gas supply, and the United States may suspend its supply as a result of any conflict.

Russia’s shutdown of gas supplies to Europe would exacerbate the energy crisis caused by low fuel prices. Record prices have raised energy consumption bills and business costs and sparked protests in some countries.

State Department officials approached the companies to ask where additional supplies might come from if needed, two industry sources familiar with the dispute told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity over the sensitivity of the issue.

The companies told U.S. government officials that the global gas supply is tight and that there is little gas to replace large volumes from Russia, industry sources said.

The State Department’s discussions with energy companies were led by Amos Hochstein, the chief energy security adviser, who also spoke on condition of anonymity to a senior U.S. State Department official. The State Department did not ask the companies to increase production, the official added.

“We have discussed a number of contingencies and talked about everything we are doing with our state members and allies,” the source said.

“We’ve done it with the European Commission, but we’ve also done it with energy companies. It’s fair to say we’ve talked to them about our concerns and we’ve talked about a range of contingencies, but it’s been there.” There is no question about production. “

In addition to asking companies about their ability to collect supplies, U.S. officials questioned whether the companies had the power to increase exports and delay field maintenance if necessary, sources said.

It was unclear which U.S. officials contacted the company. Royal Dutch Shell (LON :), ConocoPhillips (NYSE 🙂 and Exxon (NYSE 🙂 declined to comment on whether they were contacted. Chevron Corp (NYSE :), Total, Equinor and Qatar Energy did not immediately respond to the request for comment.

A second industry source said his company was asked if it had the capacity to delay maintenance in gas fields if necessary.

A spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council did not comment on talks with U.S. power companies, but confirmed that emergency planning is underway.

“Assessing potential emissions and exploring ways to reduce those emissions is good governance and standard practice,” the spokesperson said.

“All the details that reach the public in this regard only show the broad detail and seriousness that we are discussing and we are ready to implement significant measures with our allies and partners.”

Moscow has plagued the West in the past two months by gathering troops near Ukraine after taking over the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine in 2014 and supporting separatists fighting troops in Kiev in eastern Ukraine.

Biden has told Russian President Vladimir Putin that a new Russian move on Ukraine will impose sanctions and increase the US presence in Europe.

Russia denies any intention to attack Ukraine and says it has the right to move its troops.

“In the event of a shortage of energy due to the conflict or sanctions that the US promised to turn its back on Europe,” a second industry source said.

“Amos will go to major LNG companies and countries like Qatar to see if they can help the United States,” he added, referring to Hochstein.

If the supply of pipelines from Russia to Europe is reduced, European buyers would have to look for loads of supercooled gas to compensate.

U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports will rise this year to become the world’s largest supplier of LNG. It is competing for LNG supply from suppliers such as Europe, the United States and Qatar with major consumers in China and Japan, who are also facing an energy crisis.

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