WASHINGTON Jan 17 European countries dependent
on Russia for natural gas are forming a group to lobby
Washington to loosen export restrictions so they can buy the
fuel from the United States, according to a media report.
The National Journal reported on its website on Thursday
that a dozen countries, most of them in eastern Europe, are
working with a Washington firm on a lobbying coalition with U.S.
Two trade groups, America's Natural Gas Alliance and the
American Petroleum Institute, were helping form the coalition,
called LNG Allies, to seek greater access to natural gas from
the United States for these countries, the report said.
Countries likely to participate include Austria, the Czech
Republic, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania,
the Slovak Republic, Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia and Greece, the
"These countries are all still very heavily dependent upon
Russia, and they're excited about getting into the LNG
[liquefied natural gas] marketplace, and are looking for not
only U.S. gas, but good, solid business relationships," the
coalition's organizer, who was not identified, told National
The National Association of Manufacturers and the energy
industry have been lobbying the Obama administration and
Congress to relax barriers to natural gas exports.
LNG exports to countries that have free trade agreements
with the United States are automatically approved, but the
Energy Department must determine whether exports to other
countries are in the national interest.
Some U.S. lawmakers and other companies, especially in the
petrochemical sector, have urged the administration to go slow
on approvals. Dow Chemical Co has been a leading
opponent of speedy export approval, citing worries that
expanding exports too quickly could make natural gas and coal
less affordable domestically.
Some lawmakers and companies fear unfettered exports of LNG
could drive up currently cheap prices of natural gas that have
helped give a boost to manufacturing in the United States.
European representatives have been meeting with U.S.
officials over the last year to explain why they want the
American natural gas so badly, the National Journal reported.