WASHINGTON: U.S. President Donald Trump plans to promote U.S. natural gas exports at a meeting next week in Warsaw with a dozen leaders from central and eastern Europe, a region heavily reliant on Russian supplies, his top economic adviser told Reuters.
On his way to the G20 summit in Germany, Trump is slated to speak in Poland - which received its first shipment of U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) this month - to a group of leaders eager to reduce their dependence on Moscow for energy.
"There are people who use supply almost as a political weapon, in threatening to cut off supply in the coldest parts of the year - in the winter, when people need gas to heat their homes," Gary Cohn, director of the White House National Economic Council, said in an interview.
"Our intention is to be a force for good and make gas readily available for anyone who needs it," Cohn said.
Moscow cut off gas shipments during pricing disputes in 2006 and 2009, causing shortages during winter months in Ukraine and many other European nations.
The United States has looked at boosting its LNG exports for years, since drilling advances vastly expanded its domestic supplies.
The Trump administration sees growth in LNG exports as a way to reduce trade deficits with other nations and expand the economy.
Trump is set to outline his plans to help expand natural gas production and expedite LNG exports in a speech in Washington on Thursday.
The White House does not have projections for how quickly exports could ramp up, noting those decisions will be driven by market conditions and made by independent producers and exporters rather than the government.
Trump has also vowed to do what he can to boost the U.S. manufacturing sector. Some manufacturers, including Dow Chemical Co and Nucor Corp, had long fought to prevent a flood of exports, arguing that cheap domestic energy has helped them compete in world markets.
But the White House has rejected that view, instead pushing for infrastructure renewal and regulatory reforms.
Cohn said abundant reserves of natural gas should satisfy the needs of domestic users and exporters alike "as long as the infrastructure and the backbone of our natural gas system works."