Europe is reshipping 20% of its imports of Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) to other parts of the world, helping Russia maximize its fossil fuel revenues, the Financial Times reported on Nov. 29.
The EU imported 17.8 billion cubic meters of Russian LNG between January and September 2023, 21% of which was transferred to ships headed to countries like China, Japan, and Bangladesh, the FT said, citing data from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.
While the U.K. and the Netherlands have banned contracts for reshipping Russian LNG, the gas is "routinely transferred between tankers" in EU ports such as Zeebrugge in Belgium, just 12 kilometers from the Dutch border, before being exported again.
The FT reported that the practice not only helps boost Russia's revenues but also allows Russia to make more efficient use of its Arctic fleet.
A typical transshipment route starts at the Yamal peninsula, a gas-rich territory in Russia's far north.
Russian ice-class vessels transport the LNG across the Barents Sea and to northwestern Europe, where the gas is transferred to another LNG tanker that sails to another port, leaving the Russian ice-class ship to return to Siberia, the FT said.
Ports in Belgium, Spain, and France continue to receive "significant volumes" of gas from Siberian plant Yamal LNG.
The EU has not imposed sanctions on Russian LNG. Though pipeline gas imports to Europe decreased sharply in response to Russia's war, EU nations bought record amounts of Russian LNG in 2023.
One issue is that some European companies have long-term contracts with Russian companies, meaning that stopping imports would require paying compensation to Russia.
Yamal LNG has a 20-year contract with Belgian natural gas company Fluxys, which ends in 2039, the FT said.
Yamal also has a contract with SEFE, a German state-owned company. SEFE said in October that canceling the agreement would cost German taxpayers over $10 billion.
Other countries have had a more proactive approach. Finland's Environment and Climate Minister Kai Mykkanen said on Nov. 7 that his country aims to ban imports of Russian LNG on a national legislative level.
Gas and oil profits constitute a substantial portion of Russia's economy, funding Moscow's war in Ukraine.