US and EU pledge co-operation on diversifying gas supplies away from Russia

Joint statement from Joe Biden and Ursula von der Leyen aspires to integrate Ukraine into EU’s economy

US President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the G20 leaders' summit in Rome on October 31, 2021. Reuters

US President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen pledged on Friday to co-operate on securing Europe's and Ukraine’s energy needs amid fears that a Russian invasion would disrupt gas supplies.

Russia has massed an estimated 127,000 troops on Ukraine’s border, and the US and EU have threatened Moscow with severe sanctions that will target Russian gas supplies including the contentious Nord Stream 2 pipeline if an attack takes place.

"The United States and the EU are working jointly towards continued, sufficient, and timely supply of natural gas to the EU from diverse sources across the globe to avoid supply shocks, including those that could result from a further Russian invasion of Ukraine," the US and EU leaders said in a joint statement.

The EU depends on Russia for around one third of its natural gas. Any interruptions to Russia's gas supply to Europe would worsen an energy crisis.

“The European Commission will intensify work with member states for security of supply, within transparent and competitive gas markets in a manner compatible with long-term climate goals and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050,” the statement read.

The US has been in talks with major energy-producing countries including Kuwait and Qatar to secure other gas suppliers to Europe.

Mr Biden is hosting Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on Monday to draw contingency plans to provide natural gas to Europe and Ukraine if Russia attacks.

Mr Biden and Ms von der Leyen stressed the need for “progressive integration of Ukraine with the EU gas and electricity markets.”

They called on major energy-producer countries to join in ensuring world energy markets are stable and well-supplied. The US-EU Energy Council is meeting on February 7, the same day that Mr Biden hosts German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Updated: January 28, 2022, 5:23 PM