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Rick Perry says US gas more reliable for Europe than Russia's

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Brussels (AFP)

US Energy Secretary Rick Perry on Thursday pitched American liquified natural gas exports to Europe as more reliable than Russia's, even if they are more expensive.

Gas exports from the United States to the EU have surged since European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker met President Donald Trump in Washington last July to defuse trade tensions.

"If just the cheapness of the supply is all you care about then you would not buy a BMW or a Mercedes-Benz or one of the fine automobiles that come out of the European Union," Perry told a press conference in Brussels during gas talks.

"You might buy cheaper from someplace else but it might not be reliable and the point is the same with Russian gas," he said.

Speaking next to Perry, the EU's energy commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said the increase in US gas exports made sense.

"Diversification is important not only for security of supply but also for competition," the Spanish commissioner said.

Canete also hailed how the 28-nation EU has become less dependent on Russia, which remains the bloc's biggest gas supplier.

Concern about Russia rose sharply in 2014 when Moscow annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine, a non-EU member country that is a key route for Russian gas supplies to Europe.

Since Trump came to office in 2017, his administration has lobbied to stop Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Europe, opposing the project's main backer Germany and siding with eastern EU countries like Poland.

It has argued its case on security grounds while also pushing for better overall trade terms with Europe, which Trump has accused of taking advantage of the United States.

At a meeting last July at the White House, Trump and Juncker pledged no new tariffs following those on steel and aluminium, which had raised fears of a trade war.

As part of the truce, EU countries gave the green light last month for Brussels to open trade talks with Washington.

Since July, the European Commission said, cumulative EU imports of LNG have increased by 272 percent, over the previous period -- to a total of 10.4 billion cubic metres.

The commission said the US is Europe's third biggest supplier of LNG, with a share of 12.6 percent of imports so far this year.

The EU said it is prepared to "facilitate" more such imports "if the market conditions are right and prices competitive."

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