After Russia invaded Ukraine, Europe quickly shifted from what the industry called “the market of last resort” to “the market of most need,” said Anatol Feygin, executive vice president and chief commercial officer of Cheniere Energy, a large American L.N.G. supplier.
This year, shipments to Europe from the United States have more than doubled, according to Kayrros. Cargoes from Qatar have increased about 20 percent. Russia, which continues to send L.N.G. to Europe despite throttling back pipeline gas, has raised its exports about 10 percent. Although shipments to Asia have declined around 9 percent this year, it remains the main destination for the fuel.
Mr. Feygin said about 70 percent of the cargoes loaded at Cheniere this year had gone to Europe, including the roughly 10 percent that the company reserves for its own energy trading business. In August, for instance, he dispatched a cargo of gas aboard the Gaslog Georgetown from Cheniere’s terminal at Sabine Pass, in western Louisiana, to a newly opened terminal at Eemshaven in the northern Netherlands that the Dutch authorities set up hastily after Russia’s push into Ukraine.
Mr. Feygin sold the cargo to CEZ — a big Czech energy company, making its first purchase of L.N.G.
In a statement, CEZ said the cargo from Cheniere and other expected shipments were “a significant step for the Czech Republic’s energy security.” Russia has cut gas supplies to CEZ to a “minimal level,” according to Roman Gazdik, a spokesman for CEZ.
In all likelihood, that security comes at a high price. Cheniere and CEZ declined to comment on financial terms, but the cargo probably sold near spot or current prices, analysts say. Clementine Laure, an analyst at Kayrros, estimated that the cargo would currently be worth $105 million.
With overall supplies growing only about 5 percent this year, Europe’s expansive appetite for L.N.G. is most likely driving up prices around the world and making it unaffordable for many poorer countries.