American Energy Security: The Key to Fighting Russia’s Attack on Democracy

Mon, March 14, 2022

Russian aggression has created a dire and deadly situation across Europe. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has not only resulted in a tragic loss of life, but also threatens global energy markets particularly in Europe. 

Oil and natural gas is vital – it is the lifeblood of transportation, electricity and heating – and as one of the largest suppliers to Europe, Russia has the means to strangle the continent by cutting off a reliable flow of energy. But Vladmir Putin’s threats don’t hold the same weight when American oil and gas producers stand in solidarity with Ukraine, Europe and democracies everywhere.  

American oil and gas companies have announced they will end business activities with Russia. ExxonMobil halted all operations in Russia and announced it will cease any new future investment. The company’s actions align with those of its European counterparts – BP, Shell, and Total have all made separate announcements aiming to end operations or new investment connected to the country. 

U.S. LNG has also provided an invaluable lifeline to much of Europe over the past few months. Low supplies heading into the fall, coupled with a cold and icy winter had already caused rising demand on the continent. Europe desperately needs an alternative source of natural gas – which can be provided by the United States.

This winter, U.S. LNG exports to Europe shattered existing records. Exports of LNG from the United States to the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) nearly doubled from November 2021 to January 2022, hitting 6.5 Bcf/d—the most LNG shipped to Europe from the United States on a monthly basis to date. And in February of this year, Europe received nearly 70% of all exported U.S. LNG cargoes. 

Importantly, the LNG heading to the shores of import terminals like Barcelona and Dunkirk is not coming at the expense of everyday Americans. In the past decade, we have undergone a complete transformation in American energy. Thanks to the rise of oil and gas production in the Marcellus and the Permian Basin, America went from a net energy importer to a net energy exporter, but that status is now in jeopardy. In short, we are armed with a critical fact: we are capable of producing more oil and gas than we consume if we have the right energy policies in place. 

This transition from a nation reliant on imported foreign oil and gas to one critical to meeting the world’s energy demand is what paved the way to our position of strength today. From the roughnecks in West Texas who help the state produce 26 percent of America’s natural gas supply alone, to the engineers at the refineries along the Gulf Coast, we have built a resilient energy system that can provide for our own people, as well as those well beyond our borders. 

Moreover, our prolific energy production has enabled the United States to create strategic petroleum reserves of crude oil. While releases from this stockpile are not a long-term solution to addressing high commodity prices or geopolitical conflicts, they can provide access to an emergency supply of oil that can be used to offset a severe supply shortage.

Energy security is not just a theory spun by policy wonks to support the oil and gas industry – it’s the real, tangible need to ensure when our nation and our allies face threats, that we are not beholden to any other foreign powers because of a dependency on foreign energy supplies. With deep oil and gas reserves and shale basins breaking production records, Americans are at the mercy of no one but ourselves. 

Thanks to American perseverance and ingenuity, today we don’t have to imagine a world in which the United States’ energy security is beholden to countries like Russia. From Pennsylvania to Texas, we are prepared to supply our allies and fuel democracy for another generation. 

This op-ed originally appeared in Real Clear Energy. Author Ed Longanecker is president of the Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association (TIPRO). Texans for Natural Gas is a project of TIPRO.