Update: U.S. Government Suspends Consideration of Funding for Yamal LNG

Doug Norlen
Date: March 31, 2014
The Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) is the official export credit agency of the United States. EXIM is an independent, self-sustaining Executive Branch agency with a mission of supporting American jobs by facilitating the export of U.S. goods and services.

First published in the Huffington Post

On March 25, 2014, my Huffington Post blog, Will the U.S. Fund Russian Gas Exports?, reported on the U.S. Government’s consideration of funding for the enormous and environmentally harmful Yamal liquid natural gas (Yamal LNG) export project in the Russian Arctic. I questioned whether the U.S. government should subsidize a Russian gas export project when the Kremlin is known to use gas exports as a geopolitical weapon, or fund a project co-owned by Gennady Timchenko, an oil and gas baron, crony of President Putin, and one of the political figures placed under U.S. sanctions. A day later, Daniel Reilly, a public relations official at the U.S. Government’s Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) asked me to update my blog with the following clarification:

“Ex-Im Bank has not provided any support for the Yamal LNG project. The Bank simply received an application last year to support exports of U.S. goods as one of many lenders to the project, and we have suspended it subject to any further developments—even though the company ownership percentage does not rise to the level of the sanctions criteria.”

This is welcome news. But, to my knowledge, Ex-Im Bank has not yet made any other public statement on the suspension, and as of today, the agency website still lists the project as pending.

This also raises the question why Ex-Im Bank considered financing Yamal LNG in the first place. Ex-Im Bank first announced Yamal as a pending project in November 2013, the same month that the Kremlin-backed Ukranian government used violence against tens of thousands of demonstrators, and many years after Russia’s use of gas exports as a geopolitical weapon began.

It is time that Ex-Im Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg speak out and let the public know exactly where Ex-Im Bank stands on this issue.

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