348 Save for later Print Download Share LinkedIn Twitter With no sign of a diplomatic breakthrough to a potential conflict in Ukraine, Europe is engaged in frantic gas diplomacy to see where it could source LNG supplies if Russian piped gas flows are cut off. EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson held another round of talks this week with major LNG supplier Qatar, but Doha’s spot availability is limited. The US became the top LNG supplier to Europe last year when cargoes began to shift to Europe in response to high prices, but US liquefaction capacity is currently maxed out. North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa are options, but even if major LNG exporting countries could come to Europe’s aid, the massive influx of LNG cargoes would likely create bottlenecks at European terminals. The International Energy Agency's latest gas market report estimates spot prices in 2022 will average record highs of $26 per million Btu in Europe and $27/MMBtu in Asia, while restocking requirements in Europe and lower liquefaction capacity additions will continue to bolster prices. Europe has more room for LNG. The region imported 83 million tons last year, when import terminals ran at 45% of capacity. The utilization rate has since shot up to 72%, but that still leaves space. But spare capacity in the first half of 2022 is almost nonexistent. JPMorgan Chase says global LNG production reached 398 million tons in December, a 9% rise on the same period last year, with overall capacity utilization of 88%: 108% in the Middle East, 100% in Europe, near 90% in the Americas and about 85% in Asia-Pacific.