Evaluation-LNG imports take a look at EU resolve to give up Russian fossil gasoline



By Kate Abnett, Marwa Rashad and Gabriela Baczynska

BRUSSELS/LONDON (Reuters) – Political stress is constructing throughout the European Union to deal with the daunting problem of closing a loophole in its efforts to cease utilizing Russian fossil fuels: liquefied pure fuel (LNG).

Within the yr since Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, the EU has positioned sanctions on seaborne oil and coal imports from Russia.

It has drastically lower reliance on Russian pipeline fuel, regardless of not imposing sanctions on the gasoline. However on the similar time, EU nations have elevated their general purchases of Russian LNG, undermining the bloc’s pledge to finish its use of Russian fossil fuels by 2027.

As a consequence, the EU has despatched billions of {dollars} to Russian fuel companies Gazprom and Novatek that can be utilized to finance the conflict in Ukraine, because the power firms, by way of company taxes, are among the many largest contributors to Russia’s finances.

Analysts at CapraView, a world fuel forecasting agency, estimate nearly half of the LNG Russia exported within the first ten months after its invasion of Ukraine flowed to Europe, representing roughly $14 billion in income.

(Graphic: Russian LNG exports by area Russian LNG exports by area – https://www.reuters.com/graphics/UKRAINE-CRISIS/EU-LNGpercent20UKRAINE-CRISIS/zgpobjmnqvd/Russianpercent20LNGpercent20exportspercent20bypercent20region.jpg)

EU evaluation discovered Russian LNG imports elevated to 22 billion cubic metres (bcm) final yr, up from 16 bcm in 2021. These volumes are far smaller than the 155 bcm of pipeline fuel the EU used to obtain every year from Moscow, though some nations have seen a big uptick because the conflict.

Belgium and Spain practically doubled their imports of Russian LNG within the 12 months since Russia invaded Ukraine, evaluation by Kpler confirmed.

(Graphic: LNG exports from Yamal LNG exports from Yamal – https://www.reuters.com/graphics/UKRAINE-CRISIS/EU-LNGpercent20UKRAINE-CRISIS/xmpjkjobevr/LNGpercent20exportspercent20frompercent20Yamal.jpg)

The urge for food to deal with the difficulty is mounting throughout the 27-member European Union, however there isn’t any settlement on how because the dangers of inflating power costs and inadvertently boosting Russian power revenues additional are appreciable.

EU Power Commissioner Kadri Simson final month urged member states and EU firms to cease shopping for Russian LNG, calling it a “reputational danger” to have LNG imports rising whereas the bloc touts its efforts to chop income to Russia.

Additionally final month, Spanish Power Minister Teresa Ribera requested Spanish consumers to not signal new Russian LNG contracts. However she mentioned that except there have been sanctions, EU firms that stopped shopping for Russian LNG might be compelled to pay penalties for breaking their present contracts.

“I feel it must be a part of the dialogue in a sanctions package deal, as a result of in any other case the state of affairs is sort of absurd,” Ribera instructed Reuters.

“It is true that in whole quantities, it is not a lot. However I feel it isn’t straightforward to clarify why we nonetheless settle for these LNG imports,” she mentioned.

Given the political hurdle of approving sanctions, which require unanimity, some within the EU are turning to different choices.

Final week, member states collectively proposed that the bloc create a authorized choice to let nations cease Russian companies reserving the infrastructure capability wanted to ship LNG to Europe.

The proposal, which is a part of a regulation containing broader guidelines on EU fuel markets, have to be negotiated with the European Parliament. The Parliament needs to go additional, and has proposed an efficient ban all EU imports of Russian fuel.

“Unprecedented instances require unprecedented responses,” mentioned parliament’s lead negotiator on the regulation, former Polish prime minister Jerzy Buzek. He mentioned the proposal aligned with the EU’s technique to finish its reliance on all Russian fossil fuels.


Some EU officers, nonetheless, mentioned the Parliament’s proposal was extraordinarily unlikely to win political help from member states, partly due to authorized points.

Klaus-Dieter Borchardt, a Senior Power Advisor at regulation agency Baker McKenzie, mentioned World Commerce Organisation regulation solely permits nations to ban a selected product from their market in sure restricted circumstances.

“I personally would have my doubts whether or not such a rule can be suitable with these non-discrimination guidelines beneath the WTO,” he mentioned of the Parliament’s proposal. Borchardt was beforehand a senior official within the European Fee’s power division.

Dutch Power Minister Rob Jetten instructed Reuters there was the sensible problem that some nations can not diversify their provides rapidly sufficient to deal with a right away halt.

“For some EU member states, this could be a bit an excessive amount of,” he mentioned, referring to the prospect of sanctions on Russian LNG.

The Netherlands has eradicated its Russian pipeline fuel imports because the conflict and decreased, however not eradicated, Russian LNG imports.


Halting Russian LNG imports can be double-edged, analysts say.

It may drive up European fuel costs with out essentially decreasing Russian export revenues, since LNG can simply be redirected to markets in Asia that haven’t imposed sanctions on Russia, CapraView Chief Analyst Tamir Druz mentioned.

“Not like pipeline fuel exports, that are primarily stranded in Russia, it is going to be way more tough to cut back Russian revenues or international fuel market dependence on Russian LNG,” he mentioned.

Imposing a ban may be difficult, given the issue of ruling out that LNG cargoes from different nations don’t include Russian volumes, particularly by way of ship-to-ship switch.

Some EU diplomats expressed concern suppliers might be deterred from sending cargoes to Europe in the event that they had been required, as an illustration, to supply paperwork proving their LNG will not be Russian, when consumers in different markets don’t require such proof.

With the LNG market at present tight, some analysts mentioned Europe could battle to interchange Russian LNG with options, threatening fuel shortages if nations can not fill the hole.

“The 101 of sanctions is to not harm your self greater than the celebration you wish to sanction,” mentioned Anne-Sophie Corbeau, a researcher at Columbia College’s Middle on International Power Coverage.

(Reporting by Kate Abnett, Marwa Rashad, Gabriela Baczynska; modifying by Barbara Lewis)

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