​Germans prefer Russian, Canadian gas to ‘more US LNG’: Survey

Image: Shell

BASF-owned Wintershall, one of Gazprom’s closest upstream partners and backer of its Nord Stream 2 project, has published results of a survey which it says indicate that most Germans not only oppose an expansion of US sanctions against Russia but also prefer Russian gas to US LNG.

The survey, commissioned from independent market research firm Forsa, showed that “whereas half the Germans surveyed support a further diversification of the natural gas provision, only six percent want more imports of US LNG,” said Wintershall.

Germany has no LNG import terminal so it cannot receive US LNG directly until the 2020s; Wintershall did not say if Germans polled were commenting in the context of the European gas market.

The survey also showed that the vast majority of Germans (83 percent) reject the planned increase in US economic sanctions, which would also restrict the actives of German and European companies. Only seven percent considered criticism of planned US sanctions as exaggerated.

More than three-quarters (77 percent) believe that the US is attempting to bolster its own economic interests in the European natural gas market. For more than 80 percent of Germans, top gas priorities are its affordability and security of supply, while a quarter (24 percent) wanted countries that have previously benefited from gas transport revenues—such as Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine—to also benefit in future from transit revenues. Force’s sample was more than 1,000 Germans.

Norway is considered to be the most reliable partner for offsetting the decline in natural gas production in Europe, with 62 percent approval rating according to the survey, followed by Canada (46 percent), which won’t supply Germany with LNG until the mid-2020s if at all, with Russia in third place (34 percent) despite its winter 2009 blockade of gas exports by pipeline to much of eastern Europe for several weeks, over a dispute with Ukraine.

Relative to comparable older surveys relating to trustworthiness, the US dropped down the rankings to a 13 percent approval from Germans—behind the Middle East and Caspian (16 percent)—but ahead of non-suppliers Iran (9 percent) and Iraq (5 percent), and also North Africa (5 percent), which does supply gas to Europe.

“In a comparable survey conducted in March this year, almost a quarter of Germans still considered the US to be a reliable energy supplier. This share has halved in only three months. This is a clear indication of the German public’s critical perception of the current US policy under President Trump,” explains Forsa founder Manfred Gulper.

Wintershall is one of five European companies that are providing financing to the Gazprom-led Nord Stream 2 project. Last week the European Commission expressed concern at the possibility that NS2 backers might face US sanctions and reserved its right to react if they come into force.

—Natural Gas World