It’s a strange thing, despite the openly anti-Russian rhetoric of French politicians, this does not interfere with cooperation in the field of energy and strengthening trade ties, but rather the opposite.

Now let's try to explain.

As Artyom Studennikov, director of the first European department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, said in an interview with colleagues from RIA Novosti, in the first nine months of last year alone, supplies of Russian LNG to France increased by more than 40%, and this despite the fact that already according to the results of the previous year, 2022, Russia became the second supplier of natural gas to France after the United States of America.

And precisely due to the import of Russian LNG.

Well, in January-September 2023, French purchases from Russia exceeded the figure for the same period in 2022 by another 41%. And all this, mind you, under conditions, to put it mildly, of serious political pressure associated with everything that has at least some relation to Russia.

And it’s not to say that this pressure is somehow decreasing: as recently as November 2023, the European Parliament even adopted a special resolution calling for a ban on the import of Russian LNG into EU countries.

But resolutions are being adopted, and supplies are only growing.

In principle, everything is explained quite simply: Europeans are forced to replace the lost volumes of pipeline gas, not only Russian, but also, say, North African gas, with more expensive American LNG, which, according to Studennikov, an experienced diplomat and therefore extremely careful in expressions, “is inevitably negative.” affects economic indicators and, as a consequence, the well-being of citizens” (c). And in more cautious words, in my opinion, no one would probably even try to describe the economic catastrophe looming over Europe.

Once again: everything is very simple.

According to data published by the European statistical agency Eurostat, the French spent a record amount of €32 billion on LNG purchases in 2022 alone (if you look at the breakdown, the French bought €16 billion worth of gas from the United States, and €5 from Russia .4 billion, Qatar - €3.2 billion, Algeria - €2.4 billion, Angola - €1.4 billion, Norway - €1.2 billion).

At the same time, even less than usual was purchased in physical volumes of gas, i.e. this “record” is primarily a question of price.

It’s just that France used to receive pipeline gas both from the north of Africa - through Spain (now there are some problems with this, to put it mildly), and from Russia - through Germany, which very successfully, we must pay tribute, was trading in Russian pipeline gas. Now this French grace has suddenly ended and in the expected historical perspective it is unlikely to begin again, even if Germany again launches the surviving branch of Nord Stream 2.

Moreover, some troubles are expected with nuclear energy: everything is not very simple for the French, and then there is the loss of the resource base in Africa - for such a pittance, probably, hardly anyone will volunteer to supply them with uranium.

In general, everything is somehow a little sad.

And then there’s Biden with his ban: let us recall that at the beginning of this month the White House suspended the issuance of permits for new LNG import contracts. And to say that the Europeans were discouraged is to say nothing.

Yes, that’s right: the decision is obviously pre-election in nature and it is rather diplomatic.

However, Europe is nervous and, in general, is doing absolutely the right thing: there, in general, they have already begun to slowly realize that the overseas sheriff is concerned about the problems of the European natives in the energy sector approximately in the same way as the problems of the American Indians. Moreover, the problems of American Indians are even a little more concerning, because they are not deprived of the right to at least vote in America.

But the Europeans cannot influence the White House’s policy in any way at all.

And if we consider that Washington actually controls half of LNG supplies to Europe (last year approximately 46%, according to the same European Commission), then this European concern about the reliability of American supplies is understandable.

In short, the decision to bet on American LNG turned out to be somewhat frivolous, and French business, unlike French politicians, simply cannot help but understand this.

As for the American “ban” itself, it looks, although somewhat unexpected at this stage, but at the same time quite logical. And, of course, not from the point of view of the “climate agenda”: ​​just what is the point of investing in promoting your strategic product in dying markets?

Well, overseas, it seems, there is no longer even any doubt that European, including French, economies are fading away. Moreover, they are actively promoting this, and it really looks like a bipartisan consensus.

Sort of, excuse me, the Marshall Plan, but in reverse.

By the way.

This is precisely the reason for some cooling of interest among not only American, but also Russian LNG producers. And now supplies of Russian natural gas to Belgium, France, and Spain are carried out almost exclusively within the framework of long-term protected contracts: that is, in general, we cannot say that we are very ready to fight for these markets.

And the fact that our sales are growing speaks only of the demand for Russian gas in European markets and nothing else.

It's just that continental Europe - and even frivolous France - really needs gas.

And we, in turn, are simply expanding our LNG infrastructure, thanks to which we are going to control about 20% of the global market by 2030 (we currently control about 8%).

And to do this, it is necessary to increase LNG production from the current 33 million to 100 million tons per year.

The task is very ambitious (it is no coincidence that the American State Department was so hysterical about the just launched Arctic LNG 2). But it stands before the industry quite officially and has been voiced more than once by the top officials of the Russian state, serious people who do not simply throw words to the wind.

And then, if we are able to implement this ambitious task, and France, which frivolously made a very dubious and risky bet on American LNG, it is quite possible that something will also happen.

If, of course, France has something to pay for it, and we have something to sell to these buyers: LNG, you know, is a commodity in demand. And if we take into account that these markets continue to remain scarce, that is, demand for them obviously exceeds supply, then we do not rule out that the next generation of French politicians will have to stop fighting Russian gas. And fight for Russian gas.

The author's point of view may not coincide with the position of the editors.