* LNG could move quickly to undersupplied regions
* Lack of infrastructure prevents perfect LNG distribution
* LNG imports more expensive than pipeline gas
By Vera Eckert
BERLIN, Sept 30 Large unused liquefied natural
gas (LNG) capacity could be brought to play should the row
between Russia and Ukraine disrupt flows of pipeline gas to the
West this winter, European LNG terminal operators' group GLE
The crisis in Ukraine, an important pipeline route for
Russian gas to the European Union, has triggered worries of a
supply disruption in the forthcoming winter months. LNG
operators, which import the gas from overseas via tankers, say
they could step in if there are disruptions.
"If there were to be any supply disruptions of Russian gas
in the winter - but this is still speculation - then LNG can
certainly contribute to solving the problems," GLE President Wim
Groenendijk said on Tuesday.
Europe potentially has enough LNG import capacity to meet
over a third of its annual demand, with just 16 percent of the
current regasification capacity of 207 billion cubic metres
(bcm) utilised in the first eight months of this year, he said.
Over 20 regasification terminals for receiving LNG, which is
condensed to a liquid and shipped on tankers, are dotted around
European coasts, and another six are under construction. LNG
already is beginning to reduce central Europe's reliance on
"A suggestion that has come up is that we could bring gas to
the LNG terminals close to the markets that are most affected,"
Groenendijk said on the sidelines of the Platts 2014 European
There are hopes for a possible agreement between Russia and
Ukraine over gas after the EU brokered a deal over payments last
Friday, worried about relying on Russian gas for 30 percent of
its total winter supply.
But the deal still has to be implemented successfully.
Russia, which sends half its EU-bound gas via Ukraine, disrupted
flows on that route in earlier conflicts in 2006 and 2009.
Groenendijk said that ships carrying LNG could be chartered
from underused LNG terminals in Spain or Northwest Europe to go
to Italy or Greece.
There they could serve Balkan countries that rely almost
entirely on Russian gas, although analysts warned that a lack of
infrastructure makes it difficult to bring the LNG to the
regions where it is needed most.
Additionally, European spot gas prices would have to almost
double to make LNG shipments to Europe attractive enough for
producers such as Qatar, which otherwise sell most of their
cargoes to Asia, where customers pay more.
Lithuania will start up a floating LNG terminal later this
year, and Poland plans to start its own terminal next year, both
driven by Europe's political desire to break away from Russian
In the longer term, Europe is likely to receive more LNG
because the United States is building up its export capacity,
which will free up cargoes elsewhere to travel to Europe.
(Additional reporting by Henning Gloystein in London; editing
by Jane Baird)