Visegrád Four appeal to US to export shale gas

Int’l Relations

Given the current crisis in the Crimea region and the very realistic concomitant possibility that Russia could well cut supplies of natural gas to Ukraine, the Visegrád Four (Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia) governments have made a precautionary appeal to US authorities requesting easier access to imports from that country.

Ambassadors from the Visegrád Four (V4) nations to the US (György Szapáry, Petr Gandalovič, Ryszard Schnepf, Peter Kmec) submitted an appeal to Speaker of the House John Boehner to “remove bureaucratic hurdles and make it possible to start exporting US shale gas [to the countries].” The V4 representatives requested that the US Congress endorse a law to allow liquefied gas exportation.

Boehner publicly responded to the request by stating that “I hope President Obama will heed this call from our allies to use his ‘pen and phone’ to direct the Secretary of Energy to immediately approve pending natural gas export requests and do everything possible to use American energy to reduce the dependency on Russia for our friends in Europe and around the globe.” The Speaker also sees the opportunity to weaken Russian influence in the region.

From the White House, spokesman Josh Earnest hesitated to speculate on the feasibility of such a bill’s passage, but stated that if export licenses for natural gas were approved, exports would not arrive in the CEE region until the end of 2015.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister János Martonyi last week attended a meeting of his counterparts from nations including those in Central and Eastern Europe, the Baltic region, Norway and Iceland in Estonia. From there, he informed national news service MTI that the foreign ministers had “condemned Russia's aggression and called for the immediate withdrawal of its forces.” The ministers further reckoned that “the situation in Ukraine is not improving. In fact, based on the events of the past few days, it is deteriorating.”

Among agenda topics agreed upon at the meeting was the need to accelerate efforts to create a common energy market and establishment of more pipeline infrastructure on the Continent.

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