US overtakes Russia in gas exports to EU
For the first time, the EU has purchased more liquified natural gas (LNG) from the US than natural gas via pipeline from Russia, International Energy Agency (IEA) Executive Director Fatih Birol tweeted on Thursday, adding that the proportion changed due to the latest reduction in Russian supplies.
“Russia’s recent steep cuts in natural gas flows to the EU mean this is the first month in history in which the EU has imported more gas via LNG from the US than via pipeline from Russia,” Birol wrote.
“The drop in Russian supply calls for efforts to reduce EU demand to prepare for a tough winter,” he added.
The surge in imports of American LNG comes amid the European Union’s attempt to cut reliance on Russian energy, which makes it difficult for the bloc to ratchet up Ukraine-related sanctions.
In June supplies of Russian gas via the Nord Stream pipeline were slashed by 60% due to technical issues stemming from Western penalties against Moscow. Russia’s Gazprom said that German equipment supplier Siemens Energy had failed to return gas-pumping units to a compressor station on time, as the repaired turbines were stuck at a maintenance facility in Canada due to Ottawa’s sanctions on Russia.
Additionally, the pipeline operator plans to stop gas flows to Germany for 10 days in mid-July due to scheduled annual maintenance. According to a statement by Nord Stream AG, both sections of the route will be halted from July 11 to July 21.
Russia has also halted gas supplies to Finland, Poland, Bulgaria, Denmark’s Orsted, Dutch company GasTerra, and energy giant Shell for its German contracts – for refusing to adopt the gas-for-rubles payment scheme introduced by Moscow in response to sanctions.
In March, the EU agreed to buy an additional 15 billion cubic meters of US LNG this year in a bid to limit purchases of Russian gas. The bloc wants to replace a third of Russian gas imports with LNG from various sources in 2022.
Until recently, Russia’s annual volumes of gas to Europe reportedly amounted to about 150 billion cubic meters, with another 14-18 billion cubic meters sent in the form of LNG. More than 40% of the continent’s total natural gas imports came from Russia.
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