Rich Galen

Continuing on with the Russian business, there are now more experts on the natural gas issue than there are Boeing 777 cockpit qualified commentators on CNN - and that's a lot. A very lot.

Russia is among the big three in natural gas on the planet Earth, along with Qatar and the US of A.

Russia sends a great deal of natural gas to Europe. According to CNN, Russia is "heavily reliant on exports of oil and natural gas, with energy accounting for roughly 70% of annual exports."

In times past, 80 percent of the natural gas that Russia piped to Europe went through Ukraine. Twice before (the latest time in 2009) Russia has used natural gas as a weapon so there are now to additional pipelines to the west and the amount of gas that goes through Ukraine is down to about 50 percent.

Not only that, but Europeans have begun building a system of bypass pipelines so that if there is a natural gas shortage in one country, supplies can be diverted from countries with adequate or surplus supplies without involving Russia at all.

Shipping natural gas from the U.S. in the form of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) may be a great idea to put to good use some of our enormous supplies, but we don't have the infrastructure to do it.

It wasn't until the summer of 2009 that our reserves of natural gas were properly accounted for with the rise of hydro-fracturing and horizontal drilling. No one was rushing to build LNG export facilities because no one thought there was enough LNG to export.

The U.S. might be a big player in worldwide LNG trade, but it won't happen this year or next.

You know what the Europeans could use right now? And would be easy to export? And would decrease their dependence on Russian natural gas?


We have a lot of it. We have the facilities to ship it. And the Europeans have the power plants to burn it. But, as you know, coal is not the favored fossil fuel right now.

There are no easy answers; there are only easy questions.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at