Is the US buying Russian gas despite its own sanctions in place? What’s going on? Due to the cold climate in the northeastern US, liquefied natural gas was 40% more expensive last week, which makes its sale disadvantageous both for exports to Europe and Asia, and internally, according to expert Aleksandr Lesnykh.
The forecast is that the winter will be as cold as last year in the US, causing LNG prices to remain high and reserves in underground facilities to possibly run out. The volume currently pumped into US underground gas storage is at its lowest level since 2005.
In October, gas cost an average of $3.28 per mBtu (million British fuel units) at the US hub of the Henry Hub natural gas pipeline system, and in November it already reached $4.8 dollars. However, the Asian market had a particularly strong effect on the gas market, costing about $7 in the summer of last year, and this year is already over $11 per mBtu.
So despite the fact that gas production in the United States has grown by about 12 percent, there is virtually no fuel left for its needs in the country, as everything was sold to Asia.
Even in the domestic market gas companies may have losses. To supply the Northeastern states with fuel, the gas is to be liquefied at the Sabine Pass plant in Louisiana and transported by sea for more than 3,000 kilometers to the Boston terminal where it will be converted back to the gaseous state. This makes the delivery process so expensive, it is much more lucrative to import fuel from abroad.
Despite continued anti-Russian sanctions, Washington continues to cooperate with Moscow in situations where it is profitable for Americans. An example of this is Russia’s independent gas producer, Novatek, located in the northeast of the Russian peninsula of Yamal. For the US not to suffer the effects of its own restrictions, the Americans use the services of intermediaries to import consignments of Russian LNG, including the French Engie – which happened last winter and is scheduled to take place this year.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova recently said that “amazingly, Russian LNG is being successfully sent there,” adding that three tankers filled with Russian gas from Yamal have already reached the American coast.
In addition, the fourth tanker is scheduled to be shipped soon to the other side of the ocean. According to media reports, Novatek will carry out a transhipment in Norway and probably this Russian gas will be transferred to one of Engie’s tankers and delivered to American consumers.
Analysts doubt that the US gas industry in the future will simultaneously be able to meet growing domestic needs and increase exports.
The country likely to suffer more from these measures will be Poland. Previously, Warsaw and Washington signed a joint declaration on energy security and two major LNG supply contracts, so that raising US prices automatically increases the cost for Poles. If the winter gas shortage in the United States is repeated from year to year, Poles will have to buy LNG at a loss, with no chance of recovering costs.