WASHINGTON - US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s upcoming visit to three central European nations - Hungary, Slovakia and Poland - will underscore US opposition to Russian expansion in the region’s energy grid, including the TurkStream pipeline, a Department of State official told reporters on Friday. “I would also expect the secretary to raise the Russian presence in the central European energy grid and energy sector,” the official said.

“I’m thinking in particular of… Hungary’s support for TurkStream and our efforts to encourage alternatives to that, like Krk Island LNG [liquefied natural gas] terminal, which will only succeed if the Hungarians show a degree of support for that project that is greater than they have shown to date.”

Besides the three central European nations, Pompeo’s February 11-15 trip to Europe will also include stops in Belgium and Iceland, the official said. The twin-pipeline TurkStream project will have a maximum capacity of 1.1 trillion cubic feet per year and the first string will deliver Russian gas to Turkey for local consumption starting this year. The second leg is expected to carry gas to Southern and Central Europe. Its route has not been agreed yet and Russian President Vladimir Putin said in January potential EU transit countries needed to get guarantees from Brussels that the European Union would not try to subvert construction. The liquefied natural gas facility project on the Croatian island of Krk, developed by LNG Croatia LLC, is expected to be completed later in 2019.

The United States is expected to become a net exporter of natural gas by next year, with US liquefied natural gas exports poised to compete with Russian dry national gas supplied to Europe by a network of existing and planned pipelines, according to US officials.