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‘GasLift’ by allies could help Europe offset loss of Russian gas, say Baker Institute experts

HOUSTON – (April 8, 2022) – Stopgap options including an infusion of gas from allied nations could help Europe maintain enough energy supplies to offset a potential cutoff from Russian gas, according to experts from Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.

The European Union has formally proposed reducing its reliance on Russian natural gas by two-thirds by year-end, and Russia in turn has threatened to terminate all natural gas supplies to Europe. These developments demand rapidly implementable supply solutions until long-term infrastructure is in place, argue Baker Institute energy experts Gabe Collins and Steven Miles.

One solution could be a so-called “GasLift” launched by the United States, Qatar and other allied nations, a proposal named after the Berlin airlift that countered a post-World War II supply blockade by the Soviet Union. But the effectiveness of a “GasLift” could be limited by the lack of receiving capacity near demand centers in Northern Europe.

LNG tanker

“In the short term, such terminals can be surged for limited periods above their (maximum) capacities,” the authors wrote. “Other strategies, such as building new onshore LNG terminals and pipelines and onshore and offshore wind facilities, will take years.”

To bridge the gap, Collins and Miles argue the EU should deploy existing liquified natural gas (LNG) floating storage and regasification units (FSRUs), which are already near demand centers and existing natural gas pipelines and could be up and running in a year or less, according to the report. The units anchor either offshore or at a pier and connect via pipelines on a jetty.

FSRUs offer incremental and rapidly deployable intake capacity that can strengthen short-term gas security and don’t lock the EU into long-term fossil fuel or other infrastructure investments that could clash with climate objectives.

“FSRUs’ optionality should make them a European energy security tool that energy security hawks and climate greens alike can unite over and support,” Collins and Miles wrote.