Thursday 30 May 2019

Remember :freedom fries'? Now we have "freedom gas"

Molecules of freedom’?! US Energy Department rebrands LNG as ‘freedom gas’

29 May, 2019

The US Energy Department has renamed liquefied natural gas (LNG) “freedom gas” in a last-ditch effort to convince European and Asian markets its product is superior to cheaper supplies piped in from Russia.

The energy agency trumpeted the expansion of its Freeport, Texas LNG Terminal, boasting of a new facility constructed specifically to supply so-called “freedom gas” to those countries that don’t have a free trade agreement with the US – huge markets like China and the EU that are, coincidentally, about to increase their purchases of cheaper Russian gas through nearly-completed pipelines due to open by the end of the year.

Increasing export capacity from the Freeport LNG project is critical to spreading freedom gas throughout the world by giving America’s allies a diverse and affordable source of clean energy,” US Undersecretary of Energy Mark Menezes proclaimed at the Clean Energy Ministerial meeting in Vancouver, Canada.
Lest anyone miss this bold rebranding of natural gas – hardly “clean” energy, given that much of the bountiful US supply comes from hydraulic fracturing (fracking), a practice so environmentally destructive several states have banned it – Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg was even more hyperbolic with his praise for the quintessentially American fuel:

I am pleased that the Department of Energy is doing what it can to promote an efficient regulatory system that allows for molecules of US freedom to be exported to the world.

A fourth liquefaction train will be constructed at the Quintana, Texas facility, allowing the Freeport terminal to lavish 0.72 billion cubic feet per day of pure, uncut freedom on these hitherto-benighted nations, a press release boasted, touting its promise for the “energy security of our allies around the globe.”

With Europe soon to have another route of cheaper Russian gas supply via the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, US energy supply doesn’t have much to recommend it, except rhetoric. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has leaned heavily on that, warning that Russia is building the pipeline to use energy as “leverage over Europe.” Despite the US’ best efforts at intimidating Gazprom’s European partners with the threat of sanctions, and some Eastern European nations echoing Washington’s position, Nord Stream 2 is on track for completion, though.

While the US has become the world’s largest producer of natural gas, China – the second-largest global buyer – has threatened to impose a tariff as the trade war escalates between Beijing and Washington. Meanwhile, the Power of Siberia pipeline from Russia is also nearing completion, and Gazprom has its eye on becoming China’s largest supplier by 2035.

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