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Campaigners have warned that the UK’s new gas deal with the US may not be the best long-term solution to the energy crisis as it will simply replace the UK’s dependence on one foreign supplier for another. The US is set to double gas exports to the UK, selling as much as 10 billion cubic meters of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Britain over the next year, it was announced on Wednesday.
It comes as the UK scrambles to wean itself off Russian gas following the war in Ukraine and Vladimir Putin’s supply cuts to Europe, which has sent wholesale energy costs soaring and bills soaring for households across the country as a result.
But while the deal could help to slash the UK’s remaining gas ties to the Kremlin, campaigners at Global Witness have warned that importing even more gas to Britain will do nothing to boost the UK’s energy independence.
Alice Harrison, Fossil Fuels campaigner at Global Witness, told Express.co.uk: “In the short-term, it is good news that Russia will make less money from its monopoly on European gas exports.
“Doubling down on fossil fuels can never be the answer to a crisis that’s caused by a dependency on fossil fuels. It is a strategy that is at best short-sighted, and at worst, will only further enrich the oil and gas industry at the expense of everyone else.”
But Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has argued that his joint action group with the US, led by Westminster and White House officials, will form the basis of an “energy security and affordability partnership” that will guarantee safety of supply.
He said: “Together the UK and US will ensure the global price of energy and the security of our national supply can never again be manipulated by the whims of a failing regime.”
But with the prospect of bills rising further from April, households will want the Government to be doing everything it can to drive down costs. Howeever, Ms Harrison disputes that the deal will do much to ease the current price crisis.
She said: “There’s little evidence to suggest that this deal will make life easier for consumers. Our research on the European Union experience has shown that importing fracked gas from the US is instead likely to drive up prices for EU citizens. Britain needs to stop importing new fossil fuels and focus instead on building a sustainable renewable energy system at home.”
Last year, Britain imported around four percent of its gas from Russia. But Britain does purchase some Russian gas via European nations like Belgium and the Netherlands. Despite only a fraction of its gas coming from the Kremlin, wholesale gas prices soared internationally, exposing Britain’s vulnerability to the volatile and integrated gas market.
While the deal may not be able to ease prices, campaigners say, it is clear that the Kremlin will rake in less revenue amid its brutal war in Ukraine, which appears to be the main aim of the deal.
US President Joe Biden and Mr Sunak said in a joint statement: “During this global energy crisis, brought on by Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, it is more important than ever for allied countries to deepen their cooperation to ensure resilient international systems which reflect our shared values.
“Working with our allies, the United States and United Kingdom commit to intensify our collaboration to support international energy security, affordability, and sustainability, as Europe reduces its dependence on Russian energy.”
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Under the deal, the US will “strive” to export at least 9-10bn cubic metres (bcm) of LNG over the next year via UK terminals, according to the Government.
The US was already a huge supplier of LNG to the UK before the deal was struck. Over the 12 months to October 2022, the US sent Britain 9.7bcm of LNG, accounting for a staggering 42 percent of total imports.
Last year, 17 percent of the UK’s gas came in the form of LNG in 2021, mainly from the US but also from Qatar and Russia, although Russian imports have plummeted amid its invasion of Ukraine.
And while the UK is scrambling to reach net zero by 2050 and will need to eventually phase out the energy source, the fact is, it is still viewed as a transition fuel. The fossil fuel remains a major part of the energy mix, generating about 40 percent of the UK’s electricity, and heating around 85 percent of homes.
Express.co.uk has contacted the Government for comment.
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