- The EU has increased its purchases of Russian LNG this year, as Moscow drastically cuts pipeline gas supplies.
- Russian LNG imports totaled 15 billion cubic meters through September, up 50% from last year.
- Europe is scrambling to replace reduced pipeline flows with LNG purchases, which has allowed Moscow to extract large sums of money.
The European Union has increased its purchases of Russian liquefied natural gas this year, while Moscow has reduced pipeline flows.
EU imports of Russian LNG totaled 15 billion cubic meters through September this year, up 50% from a year ago, European Commission spokesman Tim McPhie told reporters on Friday. for climate action and energy, according to Russian media outlet Kommersant.
Yet Russia’s share of total EU LNG imports fell to 17% from 20% a year ago as Europe sharply increased its purchases from other parts of the world.
Overall EU LNG imports soared 66% to nearly 88 billion cubic meters in the first nine months of the year.
European countries have recently scooped up LNG shipments from the United States and Qatar as they scramble to build up stocks ahead of winter while Russia cuts pipeline flows.
Over the summer, Moscow began to cut deliveries via Nord Stream 1, then halted them altogether last month. Earlier this month, underwater explosions opened leaks in the pipeline in a likely act of sabotage.
Russia still supplies natural gas by pipeline to Europe via other gas pipelines, but not much: flows have increased from 350 million cubic meters at the start of the year to 70 million cubic meters, according to the latest estimates from Kommersant.
While LNG has helped offset lost pipeline supplies, it comes with its own complications. LNG differs from pipeline gas in that much of it is imported overseas by tankers and must be regasified before it is used for power.
Dozens of ships are circling the coasts of Spain and other European countries waiting to unload LNG cargoes, according to Reuters. The number of ships arriving exceeds the number of regasification terminals that can accommodate them.
In addition, increased LNG competition this year with Asian customers has driven tanker prices and tariffs up dramatically. LNG ships now cost a record $400,000 a day, and Europe can no longer rely on cheap US LNG as supply continues to tighten, a Texas-based LNG company has warned.
Meanwhile, Russia has pulled in large sums of money from LNG sales, which are on track to hit a record high for the year, according to Bloomberg data.