New west-east route keeps Europe hooked on Russian gas

Western European governments have sought to reduce their energy dependence on Russia since the outbreak of the Ukraine war, but when it comes to gas, they have increasingly substituted the country’s pipeline supplies with its liquefied natural gas (LNG).
A Reuters analysis of data found more than a tenth of the Russian gas formerly shipped by pipeline to the European Union has been replaced by LNG delivered into EU ports.
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The rise is partly the result of discounts, industry and trading sources say.
Private Russian producer Novatek last year sold cut-rate cargoes into the EU rejected by buyers in other parts of the world, while state-owned Gazprom increased exports from its new Portovaya LNG project, offseting its falling pipeline deliveries westward.
Home to the EU’s largest fleet of import terminals, Spain, which did not previously import piped Russian gas, has become the top re-exporter of seaborne Russian supply.
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EU statistics and Reuters calculations show the rise in LNG has pushed the share of Russian gas in EU supply back up to around 15% after pipeline imports from Gazprom (GAZP.MM), opens new tab had plunged since the war to 8.7% from 37% of EU gas supply.
Russia sent more than 15.6 million metric tons (mt) of Russian LNG to EU ports last year, according to data analytics firm Kpler, a slight increase from 2022 and a 37.7% jump compared to 2021.
The rise does not breach EU law.
Western European governments imposed sanctions on oil following the outbreak of the Ukraine war in February 2022, but they have not done the same for natural gas.
Instead the European Commission has called for a voluntary phaseout of all Russian fuel imports by 2027.
The switch from pipeline to LNG imports has, however, a significant environmental cost, as energy is required to gasify, ship and re-liquefy the fuel – a trend at odds with the EU goal of reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
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