28th Sep 2023

Russian liquid gas sales to EU jump despite war

  • "Weaponisation of gas supplies by Russia" has redrawn energy markets in Europe (Photo:
Listen to article

Overall EU gas supplies from Russia are at all-time lows, but imports of Russian liquid gas (LNG) have jumped up despite the war.

That was the picture painted in an internal EU "background note on winter preparedness" circulated to energy ministers last week and now seen by EUobserver.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Russian gas is not under EU sanctions, but supplies plunged by more than half last year due to "weaponisation of gas supplies by Russia", the note said.

"Current import levels are however far lower," it added.

"Russian pipeline imports' share in total EU gas imports dropped to 7 percent in January 2023 from around 50 percent historically" and "flows from Ukraine reduced by approximatively 80 percent in March", it said.

The EU got through last year's winter by squirrelling away supplies during summer and seeking new sources.

"Increased alternative pipeline imports from Algeria, Azerbaijan, and Norway will strengthen our diversification efforts with projected imports of 36 bcm [billion cubic metres], 11.5 bcm, and 90 bcm in 2023, respectively," the EU memo forecast.

The EU has also cut down on gas consumption by some 20 percent since pre-war times and hopes to be ready for next winter even if Russian president Vladimir Putin goes further in his dirty tricks.

"Storage inventory could reach 90 bcm (90 percent) by the end of October, even assuming no pipeline supplies from Russia," the EU officials estimated.

"Risks include a complete Russian gas stop, infrastructure incidents, an exceptionally dry or warm summer affecting the functioning of nuclear power plants during summer and limited hydropower supply, or a cold winter," they warned.

The EU briefing note also said: "LNG played a central role in the replacement of Russian gas with an increase of imports from 80 bcm in 2021 to 135 bcm in 2022".

The EU was building another 50 bcm of LNG infrastructural capacity by 2024, it added.

But the figures showed Russia itself was increasingly using that capacity to squeeze out alternative LNG suppliers, in what some EU countries have branded as illogical.

"Russian LNG imports have increased over the year 2022 from 15.9 bcm in 2021 to 22.1 bcm," the EU note said.

The EU consumes about 400 bcm a year of gas in total and the background note called the increase "rather modest".

But this still represented a 38 percent jump in the volumes of Russian LNG now coming to the EU despite the war.

The EU has so far imposed 10 rounds of sanctions on Russia, including a ban on Russian oil.

EU energy ministers last week also discussed new single market rules to curb Russian LNG exports, but stopped far short of any LNG embargo.

"You build the infrastructure [LNG] to get rid of the supplier [Russia] who manipulated your [pipeline-gas] markets and caused great difficulties to you — and then you accept the same supplier through LNG? There's something wrong with the logic," Lithuanian energy minister Albinas Zananavičius told Reuters at the time.


EU's West Balkans gas expansion hurts security and renewables

Western Balkan governments have announced a series of new gas pipelines, terminals and power plants, supposedly to steer the region away from Russia. If implemented they will hamper the region's transition to renewables, and aggravate economic and security risks.

EU’s €500m gender violence plan falls short, say auditors

The 'Spotlight Initiative' was launched in 2017 with a budget of €500 million to end all forms of violence or harmful practices against women and girls in partner countries, but so far it has had "little impact", say EU auditors.

Latest News

  1. Germany tightens police checks on Czech and Polish border
  2. EU Ombudsman warns of 'new normal' of crisis decision-making
  3. How do you make embarrassing EU documents 'disappear'?
  4. Resurgent Fico hopes for Slovak comeback at Saturday's election
  5. EU and US urge Azerbijan to allow aid access to Armenians
  6. EU warns of Russian 'mass manipulation' as elections loom
  7. Blocking minority of EU states risks derailing asylum overhaul
  8. Will Poles vote for the end of democracy?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Medical Devices Regulators Forum (IMDRF)Join regulators, industry & healthcare experts at the 24th IMDRF session, September 25-26, Berlin. Register by 20 Sept to join in person or online.
  2. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  3. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA
  4. International Medical Devices Regulators Forum (IMDRF)Join regulators & industry experts at the 24th IMDRF session- Berlin September 25-26. Register early for discounted hotel rates
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal interest in the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations – here are the speakers for the launch
  6. Nordic Council of Ministers20 June: Launch of the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  2. ICLEISeven actionable measures to make food procurement in Europe more sustainable
  3. World BankWorld Bank Report Highlights Role of Human Development for a Successful Green Transition in Europe
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic summit to step up the fight against food loss and waste
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThink-tank: Strengthen co-operation around tech giants’ influence in the Nordics
  6. EFBWWEFBWW calls for the EC to stop exploitation in subcontracting chains

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us