EU aims to give members option to ban Russian LNG imports without new energy sanctions

Ewa Krukowska and John Ainger, Bloomberg March 28, 2023

(Bloomberg) – The European Union is targeting a way for member states to have the option to effectively ban Russian shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG) without implementing new energy sanctions.

The bloc’s energy ministers are poised to endorse a proposal that would give member governments the ability to temporarily prevent Russian exporters from up-front booking of infrastructure capacity needed for the shipments, according to a document seen by Bloomberg News.

While individual governments would still need consultations, including with other EU countries and the European Commission, to employ the mechanism, the tool could continue to reduce the flow of energy products from Russia.

“We cannot and will not go back to the status quo with Russia as our main gas supplier,” said Kadri Simson, the EU’s energy commissioner. “I therefore believe that the possibility for member states to temporarily restrict capacities for gas, including LNG, from Russia and Belarus, is an important addition. We need to protect our security of supply.”

The endorsement is expected to come as part of a broader policy meeting for the ministers on Tuesday in Brussels. The proposed regulation would still need approval from the European Parliament, which has offered its own solutions to curtail Russian gas imports. The push for new import-blocking powers for member states is led by Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

The move is part of the EU’s shift away from Russian gas after President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. While pipeline flows of natural gas have dropped to record lows, LNG shipments from Moscow have surged.

Commissioner Simson earlier this month called for Russian LNG shipments to be stopped, saying companies shouldn’t renew long-term contracts once current ones end. Spain, the EU’s top buyer of Russian LNG so far this year, asked companies not to sign up for new purchases from Russia.


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