St. Petersburg International Economic Forum

The US LNG export debate received a shot in the arm for the Ukraine crisis, with several government officials calling for wholesale LNG export license approval that could ostensibly allow US companies to ship LNG to European gas consumers in the event of a Russian-initiated supply shortage. The only problem with that logic is exports will not begin until next year and take several years to ramp up to significant volumes, if companies even reach finial investment decisions on building the multi-billion dollar plants. “It is time for a decision on unrestricted LNG exports, removed from the geopolitical rhetoric that has been spawned by the Ukrainian crisis. Bills such as H.R.6, while perhaps well intended, offer little more than political bluster.” [Brookings]

Russian national oil company Rosneft’s chief Igor Sechin has been traveling around Asia and Europe meeting with major Russian oil consumers in an effort to solidify existing relationships and drum up future business. “Around the time when the U.S. and European Union introduced sanctions last month, seeking to punish Russian officials for annexing the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine, Rosneft chief Igor Sechin embarked on a tour of Asia to tout potentially lucrative contracts.” [The Moscow Times]

US Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday called on Russia to stop using energy as a weapon because Russian state-controlled Gazprom increased the price it charges the Ukrainian state gas company for natural gas supplies. “It really boils down to this: No nation should use energy to stymie a people’s aspirations,” Kerry said on Wednesday. “It should not be used as a weapon. And we can’t allow it to be used as political weapon or as an instrument for aggression.” [The Hill]