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The EU’s liquefied natural gas imports from Russia jumped by 40% between January and July 2023 compared to the same period of 2021, before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, campaign NGO Global Witness said on Wednesday.
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 is now buying significantly more Russian LNG than it did before the invasion of Ukraine, with Spain and Belgium only just beaten by China as top buyers, the Global Witness analysis of Kpler data showed.
Spain has moved up to become the second largest buyer of Russian LNG worldwide, with Belgium close behind. The two EU members were preceded only by China, which took 20% of Russia’s LNG in the first seven months of 2023. Spain bought 18% of Russia’s total LNG exports and Belgium took 17%, according to Global Witness. During the same period in 2021, before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Spain ranked 5th and Belgium 7th among Russia’s biggest LNG buyers.
Overall, the EU bought 52% of Russia’s LNG exports between January and July 2023, compared to 49% in 2022 and 39% in 2021.
Using Russian LNG prices estimated by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, Global Witness has calculated that the EU’s purchases of Russian LNG were worth $5.75 billion (5.29 billion euros) in January-July this year.
“Buying Russian gas has the same impact as buying Russian oil. Both fund the war in Ukraine, and every euro means more bloodshed. While European countries decry the war, they’re putting money into Putin’s pockets,” said Jonathan Noronha-Gant, senior fossil fuel campaigner at Global Witness.
In March this year, 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.
As LNG imports surged, the Spanish government also reportedly urged importers not to sign new deals to purchase Russian LNG.
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.