Speaker to focus on liquefied natural gas

Global instability — and specifically the current Russian-backed unrest in Ukraine — will surely be among the subjects addressed tonight in the keynote speech at the annual meeting of the West Slope Colorado Oil & Gas Association.

Jaroslav Neverovic, who until August of last year had been the energy minister of NATO member country Lithuania, will address a receptive audience tonight, in that his country and the operators of the Piceance Basin share a common desire — boosting U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas.

“As liquefied natural gas exports move from concept to reality, western Colorado’s burgeoning energy resources will play an ever increasing role in providing overseas allies and democracies alternatives to energy currently provided by unstable and unreliable sources,” the association said in a release announcing Neverovic as the keynote speaker.

Lithuania is one of a number of fledgling democracies in the world anxious to shed the leverage Russia now wields over their economies, because of their near-complete reliance on Russian natural gas.

Neverovic told a U.S. Senate committee on energy and natural resources last year that Lithuania was 100 percent reliant on Russian state-owned natural gas company Gazprom for its energy.

He said that citizens in the former Soviet republic pay 30 percent more for natural gas than other European countries.

Ukraine, also a former Soviet republic still highly reliant on Russia for natural gas, is resisting Russian-backed separatists from taking territory within its borders.

Just this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to cut off natural gas to the country of more than 45 million people.

In his Senate testimony last March, Neverovic pressed for the U.S. to expedite exports of liquefied natural gas into the global market, something limited by current law.

Local governments, operators and economic development groups have pressed for a new liquefied natural gas export terminal in Coos Bay, Oregon, which they believe is key to sales of Piceance Basin natural gas to other countries in the world, particularly on the Pacific Rim.

Neverovic tonight is expected to tout Lithuania’s newest cog in the global liquefied natural gas network, an import terminal in Klaipedia, which was commissioned in December of last year.

Neverovic described the new facility as the first large-scale liquefied natural gas import facility on the Baltic Sea, and described it as an “ice-breaker for the region,” helping to ensure an alternative gas supply and create a functioning gas market outside of Gazprom.

The West Slope Colorado Oil & Gas Association’s annual banquet, titled “The Partners of the Piceance,” is from 6 to 10 tonight at Two Rivers Convention Center in downtown Grand Junction.


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