A tanker sailing out of southwest Louisiana arrived in Poland Thursday with the first liquefied natural gas shipment ever delivered from the United States to Poland as part if its — and the region's — efforts to cut dependence on Russia.
The shipment from Cheniere Energy's Sabine Pass LNG facility in Cameron Parish was the first delivery of U.S. gas to eastern and northern Europe, which is building a new network of energy sources and gas transportation.
Last year, Poland opened its first terminal for LNG in Swinoujscie, on the Baltic Sea coast, to receive gas from distant suppliers like the U.S. or Qatar, which has already made some deliveries.
During a ceremony welcoming the U.S. tanker Clean Ocean, Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said it was a historic moment that improves the region's energy security.
The region is trying to cut its reliance on Russia, which has occasionally used its gas exports to exert political pressure. It is planning to bring in gas from the North Sea and also to boost its own production.
The U.S. State Department said that LNG exports "support American jobs, lower energy prices for our partners abroad, and contribute to Europe's energy security goals using a reliable, market-based supplier."
Officials did not disclose the size of the delivery or the cost of the deal, which was made with Houston-based Cheniere Energy Inc.
The U.S. is rich in natural gas extracted from shale formations and has been exporting the fuel to southern European nations such as Spain and Turkey, but not yet to nations in the continent's north.
Another U.S. delivery to Poland is expected this summer.
Cheniere has been shipping LNG from its Sabine Pass terminal since Feb. 24, 2016, and celebrated its 100th cargo in April and touted the delivery of cargoes to 18 countries on five continents at the time.
Cheniere was the first company to ship LNG from the continental United States in more than 50 years. It operates three liquefaction units at Sabine Pass, and a fourth unit is expected to reach substantial completion in the second half of this year. A fifth unit is under construction for operations in 2019, while a sixth is permitted. Cheniere Energy also has two units under construction at its liquefaction project near Corpus Christi, Texas, with operations at both expected to begin in 2019.
With the two LNG facilities, Cheniere and its subsidiaries are expected to invest about $30 billion in U.S. energy infrastructure.