By Daniel J. Graeber
July 31 (UPI) -- Norway is the most trustworthy partner for European natural gas and most Germans see the United States as less-than-forthcoming on energy, a survey found.
Forsa Institute, one of the leading polling firms in Germany, conducted a survey of public opinion about the regional energy industry on behalf of German energy company Wintershall. The firm has been accused of political bias toward the Social Democratic Party of Germany, which governs alongside Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union.
In an interview of more than 1,000 German citizens, the firm reported that Norway was considered the most reliable energy partner for the European market by 62 percent of the respondents, followed by Canada and Russia, respectively.
Apart from Russia, Norway is the lead oil and natural gas supplier to the European market and designates nearly all of what it produces offshore to the export market.
Manfred Gullner, the founder of the polling firm, said that German opinions of the United States are souring. In March, about 25 percent the respondents told the institute the United States was a reliable energy partner.
"This share has halved in only three months," he said. "This is a clear indication of the German public's critical perception of the current U.S. policy under President Donald Trump."
The Trump administration in June said LNG exports were a "big issue." Poland, which relies almost entirely on Russia for natural gas, received its first cargo of LNG ever from the United States last month.
Trump, seen as a trade protectionist, has been critical of European policies, Germany's in particular. Wintershall, meanwhile, has strong ties to Russian energy company Gazprom and is a partner to its efforts to expand the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea to Germany.
U.S. sanctions pressure is increasing on Russia because of its role in political crises in Ukraine and alleged meddling in the election that brought Trump to power. The polling firm reported that 77 percent of the respondents saw sanctions against Russia as a tool to increase U.S. economic leverage in the European market. Half of the respondents said they wanted Germany to move away from Russian energy, but only 6 percent said they wanted U.S. gas to fill the gap.
A special permit is required to send LNG from the United States to countries without a free-trade deal.