How does a nation safeguard its energy security? Diversify. If a single energy source fails, the lights won’t go out as long as there are multiple sources to count on.

“By any measure, energy security is a vital component of national security,” U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said in 2018. “But energy security requires energy diversity — a diversity of supply, of countries providing that supply, and of routes to deliver that supply.”

In Europe, some countries depend on a single supplier for natural gas. When the gas supply gives out due to shortages or spikes in price, people lose out. Economies can’t thrive, and families can’t afford to heat their homes.

Traditionally, natural gas was transported through pipelines. But today, technology allows natural gas to come from anywhere in the world — in liquid form. The United States, for example, ships liquefied natural gas (LNG) that is safely transported via specialized tanker ships.

In May, Perry announced the construction of two new LNG export facilities in Louisiana and Texas. They will offer important options to other countries’ energy-import mix. “Our exports provide a reliable, diverse and secure source of energy to countries looking to diversify their energy portfolios,” Perry said.

World map highlighting countries that receive LNG exports from U.S. (State Dept.)
Many countries around the world (in blue) include LNG from the U.S. in their energy mix. (State Dept.)

Perry made the announcement from Belgium, where he toured the LNG import terminal in the port city Zeebrugge. The terminal recently welcomed its first delivery of American LNG, making Belgium the 35th country to import this fuel from the U.S.

Earlier this year, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Polish officials who are working to diversify their country’s energy supply through the routes and types of fuels they use. “This isn’t just about dollars and cents for American companies,” the secretary said. “It’s about Russian influence-peddling and the need to stop it.”

Energy diversity matters

Infrastructure like the Zeebrugge terminal in Belgium offer European countries more choice in suppliers. That terminal allows competition, enabling a diverse supply that makes natural gas from the U.S. and other countries cheap and reliable.

Pompeo quotes Winston Churchill, who once said that when it comes to energy security, “safety and certainty … lie in variety and in variety alone.”

“That may not be quite true,” Pompeo said, “but it’s certainly an important thing for each of us to think about.”