It seems that some European countries are turning a blind eye to the war in Ukraine, continuing their purchases of Russian gas – despite the sanctions.
Sanctions have been a form of Western response to Russian aggression in Ukraine, but they do not seem to be being applied to everyone equally.
Europe may be closer than ever to breaking its energy dependence on Moscow, but it still cannot live without a certain type of Russian natural gas.
While Russia’s exports of coal, oil and natural gas transported through Europe’s pipelines have fallen sharply and been eliminated entirely in some countries, imports of Russian LNG – a cold, liquid form of gas that can be transported via sea tankers – they just grew up.
Imports of Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe and the United Kingdom rose by nearly 20% between March and October this year compared to the same period in 2021, according to consultancy Rystad Energy.
European imports of Russian LNG began to accelerate last fall as countries faced gas shortages.
According to experts, these shipments can be estimated from $1 billion to $2 billion.
Most of Russia’s LNG imports come from privately owned Novatek, the country’s second-largest natural gas producer after Gazprom. Novatek operates the Yamal LNG project in the northwest Arctic.
Russia, the world’s fourth largest LNG producer, currently accounts for around 15% of Europe’s total LNG supply.
But as with Russia’s pipeline gas, Europe’s appetite for its LNG could leave it vulnerable to sudden supply cuts from Moscow. The increase in imports also runs counter to the bloc’s ultimate ambition to completely cut ties with Russian energy and eliminate funding for the Kremlin’s war effort.
European sanctions have not yet targeted either form of natural gas because of its importance to some countries’ energy security.
“The EU needs LNG,” Anne-Sophie Corbeau, global research fellow at the Center for Global Energy Policy (CGEP), told CNN Business.
“So it is convenient for them to turn a blind eye to LNG [ruse]while Russia continues to enjoy revenues… until now, this LNG has been largely under the radar,” she added.
Most September imports went to France, Spain, the Netherlands, Britain and Belgium.
Germany, which is among the countries that is suffering the most from the lack of Russian gas, is unable to buy LNG as it does not have the necessary infrastructure or refineries to store it, even though such a refinery is under construction and is expected to be inaugurated in soon.
This year, global LNG imports to Europe have increased by 47% to 86 million tonnes, with the majority shipped from the United States and Qatar.