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The Spanish government has urged importers of liquefied natural gas 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 on Friday.
The government of Spain, via Deputy Prime Minister Teresa Ribera who is responsible for the country’s energy policy, sent a letter in the middle of March to Naturgy Energy, Repsol, TotalEnergies, Pavilion Energy, Enagás, Met Energy, Enet Energy, Energias de Portugal, Compañía Española de Petroleos, and BP Gas & Power Iberia, urging them not to sign new contracts, according to the letter seen by Bloomberg News.
The plea is not binding because there are no sanctions on Russian gas in Europe, but the letter anyway calls on the LNG importers to “intensify the diversification of supply of liquefied natural gas and do without those from Russia.”
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.
Since September 2022, when Russia cut off deliveries via Nord Stream before the pipelines were sabotaged later that month, Russian gas has accounted for some 8% of all pipeline gas imported into the EU.
Norway has replaced Russia as Europe’s top pipeline natural gas supplier.
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 Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com