WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is in talks with major energy-producing countries and companies around the world over a diversion of supplies to Europe if needed in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, senior Biden administration officials said on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters on a call, the officials did not name the specific countries or companies they were in talks with to ensure an uninterrupted energy flow into Europe for the remainder of winter, but said they were a broad range of suppliers, including sellers of liquefied natural gas (LNG).
"We've been working to identify additional volumes of non- Russian natural gas from various areas of the world; from North Africa and the Middle East to Asia and the United States," a senior administration official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"Correspondingly, we're...in discussions with major natural gas producers around the globe to understand their capacity and willingness to temporarily surge natural gas output and to allocate these volumes to European buyers," the official said.
Russia has massed an estimated 100,000 troops within reach of Ukraine's border, surrounding the country from the north, east and south.
Russia denies that it plans an invasion and Moscow has cited the Western response as evidence that Russia is the target, not the instigator, of aggression.
The European Union depends on Russia for around a third of its gas supplies, and U.S. sanctions over any conflict could disrupt that supply.
Any interruptions to Russia's gas supply to Europe would exacerbate an existing energy crisis caused by a shortage. Record power prices have driven up consumer energy bills as well as business costs and sparked protests in some countries.
Reuters reported https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/exclusive-us-talks-energy-firms-over-eu-gas-supply-case-russia-ukraine-conflict-2022-01-15 on Jan. 15 that the U.S. government has held talks with several international energy companies on contingency plans for supplying natural gas to Europe.
(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Steve Holland; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bernadette Baum)