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Around 21% of Russia’s LNG volumes bound for the European Union are transshipments, which are not included in official import figures and thus ignored by EU policymakers, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) said in an analysis on Wednesday.
Over the past year and a half, the EU has boosted imports of Russian LNG, as the bloc is now buying significantly more Russian LNG than it did before the invasion of Ukraine.
Unlike Russian oil, Russian gas is not banned or under sanctions in Europe. But while pipeline gas supply from Russia has slowed to a trickle, Europe has raised imports of LNG, including LNG from Russia.
The EU, however, has a target to be independent of Russian fossil fuel imports by 2027, as envisioned in the REPowerEU plan.
EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said in September that the European Union should phase out imports of LNG from Russia.
Data analyzed by IEEFA shows that of all the Russian LNG that was received by Belgium and France between January and September 2023, as much as 37% was transshipped, of which the majority went to non-EU markets.
“The transshipped cargoes arriving at LNG terminals in Europe are often not included in official import figures and thus ignored by policymakers,” Ana Maria Jaller-Makarewicz, the Lead Energy Analyst for IEEFA’s Europe team, wrote in the analysis.
Spain, Belgium, and France are the biggest importers of Russian LNG, but a part of the cargoes is being transshipped from the ice-class breakers to LNG vessels and later shipped on to other markets, including in Asia.
For example, IEEFA’s analysis showed that in the first nine months of 2023, the volume of LNG from Russia’s Yamal LNG export facility that arrived at Belgium’s Zeebrugge terminal was almost double the volume of Yamal LNG imports to the terminal. That’s because Zeebrugge still allows transshipment of Yamal LNG, unlike the Netherlands, which has stopped offering transshipment services for Russian LNG, and the UK, which has banned Russian imports of the fuel altogether, IEEFA notes.
Belgium is looking into ways to tackle the transshipment issue without putting European supply security at risk, a spokesperson for the Belgian energy ministry told the Financial Times.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.