March 26, 2014

Wyden: Strengthen European Allies By Aiding Europe’s Energy Development

Proposal Cuts Eastern Europe’s Dependence on Russian Natural Gas; Directly Boosts Europe’s Energy Security Without Automatically Approving U.S. LNG Exports

Washington, D.C. – In response to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, Sen. Ron Wyden today called for the United States to reduce Eastern Europe’s dependence on Russian natural gas, by giving allies like Poland the expertise and know-how they need to develop their own energy resources.

“It is time to do something real to bolster Europe’s energy security by helping them develop Eastern Europe’s substantial natural gas reserves and reduce the leverage Russia has over its energy-dependent neighbors,” Wyden said. “The most powerful tool the United States can give Eastern Europe isn’t exported natural gas that won’t get to Europe for years, if ever. It is empowering our European allies to develop their own energy resources, like the major shale gas deposits in Poland.”

Russia provides nearly a third of Europe’s natural gas overall. Proposals to automatically approve natural gas exports from the United States would do little to help reduce Eastern Europe’s heavy dependence on Russian natural gas, since U.S. export terminals are years from completion, and likely to send that gas to Asia, where prices are higher than in Europe.

“This is clearly only one step of many needed to send a message to President Putin. But as the former chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee I know that a stable energy supply is the lifeblood of any economy and a very important component to a secure nation. This approach will give our allies the tools they need to become more secure and less dependent on the whims of Mr. Putin.”

Wyden introduced an amendment today to increase funding for a State Department program that aids natural gas development abroad.  The amendment directs $10 million within the Economic Support Fund to support the Unconventional Gas Technical Engagement Program, which helps countries develop the regulations and technical expertise they need to access their own gas. The amendment also encourages the State Department to direct this assistance to Eastern European countries, like Poland, that have asked for American help to harness their own energy supplies.


Press Contact

Keith Chu, 202-224-0537

Samantha Offerdahl, 202-224.5039