The European Union continues to be the largest importer of Russian gas, both in pipeline form and as liquefied natural gas (LNG), according to a report by Rossiyskaya Gazeta, citing data from the Finland-based Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA).
This dependence persists despite ongoing geopolitical tensions and a push for energy diversification. Alexey Grivach, deputy head of the National Energy Security Fund, notes that the import of Russia’s pipeline gas stabilized at approximately 2-2.5 billion cubic meters as of last September.
He attributed this stability partly to favorable weather conditions in both western and eastern Eurasia over the past two years, which reduced the demand for heating. Additionally, the Asia-Pacific countries, not requiring as much LNG, have been able to resell certain amounts to European nations, taking advantage of the high demand in the EU.
Short-Term Reductions and Future Projections
Ivan Timonin, a senior consultant at Implementa, observed that in 2022-2023, gas consumption in the EU was reduced to the lowest level achievable in the short term. This reduction, however, is largely seen as a forced measure due to limited global LNG availability.
Looking ahead, significant changes in EU consumption in 2024 are not anticipated. In fact, there might be a slight increase in demand, by approximately 5-10 billion cubic meters, if the LNG market shortage eases and prices drop accordingly.
Russian LNG Exports and Future Potential
Grivach highlighted that almost all LNG from Russia’s Yamal Peninsula and the Baltic Sea region has been supplied to the EU over the past two years. The future of these exports, however, hinges on a variety of factors, including political decisions, weather patterns, and the ability of Russian companies to navigate U.S.
sanctions and launch exports from the first line of the Arctic LNG-2 plant. Should Arctic LNG-2 become commercially operational, Russia could significantly increase its LNG supplies to Europe, potentially leading to the largest growth in the EU's LNG imports.
The relationship between the EU and Russian gas exports remains complex and multi-faceted, influenced by a blend of geopolitical, economic, and environmental factors.