EU transshipments of Russian LNG were up 7% year-on-year to May
EU transshipments of Russian LNG were up 7% year-on-year to May

EU imposes ban on Russian LNG transshipments

European Union countries have approved new sanctions on Russia, including a ban on the transshipment of Russian LNG to third countries.

EU Ambassadors agreed a ‘substantial’ 14th package of sanctions in reaction to the Russian aggression against Ukraine, which included new targeted measures designed to close loopholes. But it falls short of a full ban on EU states purchasing LNG.

EU Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, said, “For the first time it includes targeted measures on LNG, which is key to strip Russia of further energy revenues.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said it was a “hard-hitting package” that will further deny Russia access to key technologies and strip it of further energy revenues.

Ana Maria Jaller-Makarewicz, Lead Energy Analyst, Europe, at IEEFA, said the EU has “finally woken up” to the role its ports are playing in transporting Russian LNG to Asia, even as the bloc plans for a future without Russian fossil fuels. In the first five months of 2024, EU transshipments of Russian LNG were up 7% year on year and last year, about 21% of all Russian LNGflowing to the EU were transshipments.

She said, “Belgium’s Zeebrugge and France’s Montoir-de-Bretagne terminals still receive significant volumes of LNG from Yamal in Russia’s Siberia region. Last year, 90% of the terminals’ Yamal LNG transshipments were sent to non-EU markets. Banning these transshipments doesn’t affect the EU’s security of supply and will prevent Russia from using the bloc’s terminals for its own gain.”

The trend has been downwards following sanctions. Russian gas supplies accounted for 15% of EU total gas imports last year, compared with 24% in 2022 and as high as 45% the year before the war started. Overall, gas imports from Russia decreased by 71% since 2021.

However European companies imported 18 billion cubic metres (bcm) of LNG last year (click here). After the US, Russia is Europe’s largest supplier of LNG.

The Atlantic Council said the EU needs a comprehensive policy on LNG imports from Russia.

“The surge of Russian LNG imports to the EU in 2022–2023 is not normal and generates significant revenues for Russia (which may also be used to finance the war through emergency windfall taxation),” it notes.

“The EU needs a clear schedule to phase out Russian LNG imports. It should also accelerate its efforts to develop offshore natural-gas production, particularly in the Mediterranean and Black Seas, as an alternative to Russian gas in the medium and longer term.”

Since most LNG shipments pass through the Belgian port of Zeebrugge, one EU country blocking imports could encourage them to reroute to another location. Spain was among the countries voicing its concerns.

With Europe restrictions intensifying, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been seeking to short up long-term supplies of LNG to Vietnam during a recent visit.

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