Europe calls for more US natural gas exports

Central European countries are asking U.S. lawmakers to expedite natural gas exports in an effort to curb Russian President Vladimir Putin's power.

Ambassadors from Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia wrote to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) urging congressional action to fast-track natural gas exports to allies in Central and Eastern Europe.

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"As events in Ukraine bring back the memories of the Cold War, from which all of our countries suffered terribly, we are writing to highlight the overall importance of U.S. engagement in Central and Eastern Europe, and more specifically in the area of energy security and reliable supply of natural gas," the letter states.

Still, experts say the infrastructure is not ready in the U.S. to speed up natural gas exports. And import facilities might not be close enough to the Ukraine, making exports a somewhat mute point.

Other options might be open, however, the ambassadors highlight in the letter.

With recent infrastructural investments in Central and Eastern Europe, it became possible to build “reverse gas flows”, which have allowed sending gas from Poland and Hungary to Ukraine at a cheaper price than what Ukrainians had to pay, the letter sent to Boehner and Reid on Friday states.

"As a result, in 2013 alone, Ukraine imported almost 2 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Poland and Hungary. Reverse flow capabilities could be further enlarged and a potential Slovak-Ukrainian direction could be added."

Boehner and fellow Republicans are pushing the administration on exports, claiming not enough is being done quickly. In the House, legislation that would fast-track exports to World Trade Organizations countries was introduced last week, as well as a similar in the Senate by Democrat Mark Udall (Colo.).