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EU’s Robust LNG Imports from Russia Defy Energy Diversification Goals

A comprehensive industry analysis report published by Global Witness, a prominent global natural resources non-governmental organization (NGO), has revealed a paradox in the European Union’s (EU) energy dynamics. Despite ambitious aspirations to curtail its reliance on Russian fossil fuels by 2027, the EU has substantially escalated its imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Russia, achieving record levels.

The analysis, shedding light on the complex energy landscape of the EU, underscores that Russia has emerged as a pivotal LNG supplier to the region. This stands in stark contrast to the EU’s strategic agenda of diversifying energy sources and reducing its dependency on Russian energy imports.

Remarkably, the data from the first seven months of this year indicates Belgium and Spain as Russia’s second and third largest purchasers of LNG, following China which occupies the top position. This surge in LNG imports mirrors a broader trend, as EU-wide LNG imports burgeoned by a significant 40% during the January-July period of this year. This statistic far surpasses the corresponding figures from 2021, which predates the full-scale Russian intervention in Ukraine.

A deeper analysis unveils the context for this escalation in LNG imports. Historically, the EU had maintained a relatively low appetite for LNG imports due to its reliance on natural gas supplied via pipelines from Russia. However, the surge in LNG imports from Russia is particularly notable as it outpaces the global average for Russian LNG imports, which stood at a mere 6% growth during the same period.

Drawing on data sourced from Kepler, Global Witness’ assessment divulges that EU’s imports of LNG from Russia registered a substantial 1.7% increment in comparison to the previous year’s record highs. Impressively, the cumulative LNG imports from January to July 2023 in the spot market amassed a substantial value of 5.29 billion euros—a testament to the intricate interplay between economic, geopolitical, and energy considerations that influence the EU’s energy import dynamics.

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