The number of freighters carrying LNG from Europe has increased. Photo: Sputnik / Sergey Krasnoukhov

The European Union intends to give up fossil fuels from Russia from 2027, but for the moment, the reality is different, and European countries are breaking purchasing records. Experts explained to Sputnik why high-sounding statements and exaggerated Russophobia do not prevent them from increasing their purchases.

EU countries, including Ukraine's staunch allies such as Estonia and Lithuania, bought €2023.6 billion worth of Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) in 100, the Telegraph reports citing Eurostat.

"Despite a promise to divest from fossil fuels from Russia, the number of freighters carrying LNG from Europe has increased," the paper said.

According to data from the Institute of European Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, deliveries of Russian LNG to Europe in 2022 reached an all-time high of 16.700 billion cubic meters (mmc), up from 12.300 billion cubic meters (bcm) in 2021.

Spain and Belgium are Russia's largest customers in the European Union. According to estimates by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), purchases in 2023 soared by 50% compared to 2022. From January to October 2023, Madrid bought 5,210 mmc, and Brussels 3,140 mmc.

The share of Russian LNG imports in total purchases of this hydrocarbon is 26.5% for Spain, and 37.2% for Belgium, with France also at the top.

According to data from the French company Kpler, which specialises in collecting information on commodity markets, Russian liquefied gas accounts for 16% of the EU's total imports of this fuel. In this respect, Moscow is second only to Washington.

Forgetting about politics

According to data from the EU's statistical service, Spain paid €1.800 billion to Moscow, while France and Belgium paid €1.500 billion and €1.360 billion, respectively.

As reported by the Spanish energy company Enagas, Russia is Spain's third partner in 2023, only behind Algeria and the United States. During the period between January and September 2023, the Iberian country imported a volume of LNG equivalent to 56,490 GWh (gigawatt hours), an increase of 48.2% compared to the same period in 2022 (38,125 GWh).

Supply is growing because not all EU states have access to the sea and LNG regasification capacity. Spain and Belgium do, and from those countries, the regasified product is sent elsewhere.

With regard to France, in the words of Pavel Marishev, director of development at the engineering company Energia Plus, that country not only actively buys Russian LNG, but continues to exploit nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, which contradicts the EU's general vector. Spain and Hungary, which "are not the richest in Europe", are guided by economic reasons and do not seek to change suppliers: it is much more expensive to bring LNG from the United States or Australia

"Despite the public statements of officials, the economy outweighs politics," he concluded.

Growing demand

In short, even if the rejection of Russian gas, both conventional and liquefied, is declared, in reality everything is exactly the opposite and import volumes continue to rise. The current saturation of European storage facilities (99.32%) is largely the result of active LNG purchases from Moscow.

"To survive the cold winter, European countries need to multiply their supplies. In addition, the EU lacks sufficient capacity to both store and receive LNG. The search for alternatives to Russian fuel takes time, and with the cold weather there can be a furor and prices will skyrocket. Europe should not expect a fuel surplus," says Vitáli Kitaichúk, deputy head of the financial and technology company Only Bank.

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) estimates that by the end of 2024 global demand for LNG will grow by 16%.

European countries are experiencing an energy crisis due to high gas and electricity prices, after they skyrocketed as a result of the sanctions imposed on Russia for its demilitarization and denazification operation in Ukraine, which, in particular, restrict the export of these energy products.

Russia repeatedly indicated that the EU made a serious mistake by renouncing the acquisition of Russian hydrocarbons and fell into a new dependence, but now with higher prices, assuming colossal economic losses.

(Taken from Sputnik World)

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