President Trump told representatives of 12 European nations gathered for a summit of the Three Seas Initiative that the United States is eager to build strong trade ties and export energy supplies to them, quipping "if you need energy, just give us a call."
The president particularly emphasized his support for exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe, noting recent and potential future natural gas export deals with Poland. Polish President Andrzej Duda followed up during a later press conference saying he was convinced Poland could become a hub for U.S. LNG deliveries to other countries in central Europe, creating a north-south natural gas corridor and an alternative to gas supplies from Russia and Ukraine.
Speaking at the summit Thursday, Trump said the U.S. strongly supports the creation of the Three Seas Business Forum, which the initiative -- so named because its members are in a region bordered by the Adriatic, Baltic and Black seas -- plans to use to create energy infrastructure projects.
"New energy infrastructure is essential to this rebuilding effort," Trump said, adding "greater access to energy markets, fewer barriers to energy trade and development, and strengthening energy security is what we're looking to do. The Three Seas Initiative has the potential to accomplish all of these essential objectives...very quickly."
Trump congratulated the Polish government and its people for receiving their first shipment of LNG from the U.S. last month. Last April, the Polish Oil & Gas Co., a state-controlled oil and gas company, struck a deal for a spot cargo from Cheniere Energy's Sabine Pass LNG terminal in Louisiana.
Two proposed energy infrastructure projects were also lauded by Trump: the Gas Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria, a 32-inch diameter, 182-kilometer (113-mile) pipeline with 3-5 billion cubic meters (105.9-176.6 Bcf) of transportation capacity; and LNG Croatia LLC's floating LNG import terminal on the Croatian island of Krk, which would have 2 billion cubic meters (70.6 Bcf) of import capacity.
"These projects and many others are crucial to ensuring that your nations continue to diversify your energy sources, suppliers, and routes. I also applaud Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, and Austria for pursuing a pipeline from the Black Sea," Trump said. He drew parallels to the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, which he pushed forward with presidential memorandums in January.
In an apparent swipe at Russia, Trump said, "Let me be very clear about one crucial point: The United States will never use energy to coerce your nations, and we cannot allow others to do so. You don't want to have a monopoly or a monopolistic situation. The United States is firmly committed to open, fair, and competitive markets for global energy trade."
Trump repeated the comment on coercion later in the day Thursday to a crowd gathered in Warsaw's Krasinski Square. "America is eager to expand our partnership with you," he said. "We welcome stronger ties of trade and commerce as you grow your economies. And we are committed to securing your access to alternate sources of energy, so Poland and its neighbors are never again held hostage to a single supplier of energy."
During the press conference question-and-answer session with the Polish president, Trump joked that the U.S. and Poland could enter a long-term LNG contract "within the next 15 minutes." Duda laughed, but countered that such an agreement would be signed between American and Polish companies, not elected officials.
"The most important thing is the green light given by the U.S. government, [and] administration, that there is an incentive given for us to buy gas from the United States," Duda said. "On the Polish side, there is also a green light and interest in those particular things...Negotiations are ongoing, [but] I believe that after the conclusion of those negotiations there will be a long-term contract for U.S. LNG deliveries to our LNG terminals in Świnoujście."
The 12 member countries of the Three Seas Initiative are Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.