Matthew James Bryza, a former US ambassador to Azerbaijan and now director of the International Center for Defence Studies (ICDS) in Estonia, said in Vilnius on Thursday that, in theory, the EU could fully replace Russian gas through the available LNG import capacities.
"The promise of LNG to diversify supplies takes us to an amazing realization if you think about the leverage Russia tries to apply on the EU by threatening to cut the natural gas supplies," he said at the Baltic Energy Forum 2014.
The LNG price in Europe's north-western gas trade centres stood at around 316 US dollars per 1,000 cubic meters two weeks ago, while the price of Russian gas for EU countries last year averaged 385-390 dollars, Bryza said.
According to him, the EU in 2013 imported some 164 billion cubic metes (bcm) of gas from Russia, of which around 80 bcm are in storage facilities. If Russia cut off supplies, the EU could use that gas and import around 78 bcm of LNG annually.
"Europe could in emergency import all the gas that Russia would cut in winter through the capacities available," the ICDS director said.
The former US diplomat said that the price of gas would then rise sharply, but it would still not be too high for the EU as a whole.
"If it doubled, still the European Union would need to spend about 13-14 billion dollars more to buy that LNG than Gazprom gas. It's not a lot of money for the EU as a whole," he said.
However, Bryza underlined that in order to create a liquid gas market across Europe, it is essential to ensure effective gas connections between EU member states.
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