The European Union is considering allowing individual member states to block LNG imports from Russia without slapping sanctions on Russian gas, a draft document seen by Bloomberg News showed on Tuesday ahead of a meeting of the EU energy ministers.
The proposal would allow individual member states to prevent Russian LNG exporters from booking capacity at Europe’s LNG import facilities. The push to give EU members the power to temporarily block LNG imports from Russia is led by Russia’s EU neighbors Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland.
Even if the mechanism to block Russian LNG without sanctions is endorsed by the EU energy ministers, the individual EU governments would still need to consult with other EU countries, the European Commission, and other EU institutions.
The European Commission and some EU members have already called for a reduction of imports of Russian LNG which have jumped since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the resultant reduction in the supply of Russian pipeline gas.
The Spanish government has urged LNG importers not to sign new deals to purchase Russian LNG as the biggest buyer of Russia’s LNG in Europe looks to reduce dependence on Moscow’s gas, sources familiar with the matter told Bloomberg last week.
Earlier this month, EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson urged all EU member states and all companies not to sign new LNG import contracts with Russia. The European Union has managed to significantly cut its imports of Russian pipeline natural gas over the past year, but now it should stop all LNG imports from Russia, Simson said.
While pipeline supply from Russia has slowed to a trickle, Europe has raised imports of LNG, including LNG from Russia.
Russia’s LNG supply to Europe jumped by around 20% last year from 2021, according to Refinitiv Eikon data cited by Reuters. All Russian LNG exports rose by 8.6% in 2022 to around 45 billion cubic meters, more than half of which went to Europe, per Refinitiv Eikon’s data.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Russia’s LNG producer Novatek currently sells more than half of its 32.6 million tons of LNG exports to the EU. It can easily shift this volume to China which has a 10% share in the Russian company.
Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
International Oil Economist
Global Energy Expert