Is Koch Industries Lobbying the EU Over Natural Gas? (DeSmogBlog)

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  • July 10, 2015
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America’s largest privately owned energy company, Koch Industries, has been lobbying on “energy markets/financial regulation” reveals new data released by the interactive lobby database, EU Integrity Watch launched at the end of June.

On 28 April, Koch’s lobbyist met with Lee Foulger, an EU cabinet member working under European Commissioner Jonathan Hill. Hill’s team works on financial stability, financial services and the Capital Markets Union – Europe’s flagship project to build a single finance market for all 28 Member States.

According to the databas, this is the only lobby meeting the representative for Koch’s legal, lobbying and public affairs arm – known as Koch Companies Public Sectors – has had in the last six months with a member of the European commission. Meetings prior to December 2014 are not available online.

Natural Gas

So what exactly was Koch lobbying on during this meeting?

Earlier this week, DeSmog UK revealed that Koch’s lobby interests centre on energy, the environment and free trade. But, taking a clue from the Foulger meeting’s subject title – “Energy markets” – a very likely subject within this could be liquefied natural gas (LNG) markets.

Last June, it was announced that the Geneva-based Koch Supply & Trading would start buying and selling European electricity as well as expand its LNG business, which has seen significant production growth in the US due to fracking.

New data by analytics company RBN Energy reveals that upheaval in the international LNG market – combined with the “destination flexibility” built into most US LNG sales and purchase agreements – means Europe is likely to become a primary market for US gas exports. This looks like a particularly favourable option given the EU remains skittish about its current dependence on Russian gas.

LNG and TTIP

In fact, Europe’s urgent desire to diversify its gas supply has now become a key objective of the USEU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations.

As part of the controversial trade talks, the EU has been explicitly asking the US to overturn its prohibitive crude export ban, which has been in place since 1975, as well as to lift restrictions on the export of American LNG.

Former EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht even went as far as to say: “I cannot imagine that there will ever be a TTIP without such (energy) provisions.”

Given Koch’s growing LNG business both in the States and Europe, it’s likely that TTIP is at the top of the company’s lobbying list (an issue previously explored by DeSmog UK).

Market Liberalisation

As Koch Industries’ 2014 Natural Gas Brochure argues: “Natural gas plays a key role in the world’s energy mix today – and into the future. Energy market liberalization in Europe and the U.S., combined with rapidly increasing numbers of LNG consumers and flexible LNG supply possibilities, presents unique opportunities for gas and LNG companies.”

In addition to its US gas production, the company aims to expand into Turkey and the Caspian region this year – an area known for its strategic geographic location for gas pipelines coming from both the Middle East and Russia; it is also believed to have great natural gas potential.

Koch Supply & Trading already operates an 80,000-barrel-per-day refinery in Rotterdam. Its LNG trading business is based in London with offices also located in Amsterdam.

DeSmog UK has contacted Koch Industries and Koch Supply & Trading for comment on its lobbying activities in Europe however they failed to respond in time for publication.

@kylamandel

Photo: Rickz via Flickr