Gazprom expects tough competition from U.S. LNG exports to Europe

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Russian gas group Gazprom at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2017 in St. Petersburg, Russia, June 1, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

MOSCOW (Reuters) - U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe will be the main competition for Gazprom this year, the Russian gas giant said on Thursday in an abrupt change of tone toward gas supplies from the United States.

“It is obvious that LNG will be the main rival in the battle for the European consumer,” Sergei Komlev, head of contracts structuring, said in comments published in Gazprom’s magazine on Thursday.

Gazprom has previously dismissed concerns that U.S. LNG supplies to Europe could have an impact on its business, with officials saying that Russian gas will always be cheaper than imports from the United States.

U.S. LNG has flooded Europe since October last year, reshaping gas flows on the continent and leading to high storage levels and narrower price spreads.

Reporting by Oksana Kobzeva; Writing by Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by Kirsten Donovan