Washington fears that Moscow is preparing a new military offensive against Ukraine, after annexing the Crimean peninsula in 2014. Russia says it has deployed soldiers on the Ukrainian border only for defensive purposes and denies any plans to invade its neighbor .
About a third of Europe’s gas supply depends on Russia, deliveries that could be disrupted by sanctions the United States has threatened to impose on Russia if it were to attack Ukraine.
A possible disruption of gas deliveries from Russia would exacerbate the energy crisis in Europe, where prices have soared for consumers and businesses.
U.S. State Department officials have approached energy companies to see if additional deliveries would be possible if needed, two industry sources familiar with the discussions told Reuters.
The companies responded that global gas reserves were limited and there was an insufficient amount of gas available to offset the large volumes exported by Russia, the sources said.
According to a US State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, Washington has not asked companies to increase production.
We discussed a range of contingencies and everything we do with our partner states and allies, said this diplomatic source.
The companies did not comment
Discussions have been undertaken with the European Commission as well as with energy companies, she said.
It is true to say that we expressed our concerns to them and talked about contingency plans, but there was no request for production.
We do not know precisely the identity of the companies contacted by Washington.
Royal Dutch Shell, ConocoPhillips and Exxon declined requests for comment. Chevron Corp, Total, Equinor and Qatar Energy did not immediately respond to requests from Reuters.
A National Security Council spokesman in Washington would not comment on U.S. talks with energy companies, but confirmed that back-up plans were being considered.