The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office announced on December 28 that it has ended all imports of Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In 2021, Russia supplied 4% of the UK’s gas, 9% of its oil, and 27% of its coal, worth a combined total of £4.5 billion.
The UK government had previously committed to ending imports of oil and coal from Russia by the end of the year, and ending imports of gas “as soon as possible thereafter.” The UK implemented a ban on Russian gas that went into effect on January 1, 2023.
Data from UK trade statistics shows that in the seven months following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in October 2022, the UK imported £2 million of oil from Russia, but no coal or gas.
This marks the seventh consecutive month without imports of Russian gas. In June 2022, the UK imported no fossil fuels from Russia for the first time since 2000. Overall energy imports from Russia in the year leading up to October 2022 totalled £3.36 billion.
UK is less reliant on Russia than other European nations
While the UK is less reliant on Russian energy compared to other European countries, it is still affected by the disruption caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has led to increased gas and oil prices. According to Eurostat, in 2020 Russia supplied 39% of the EU’s gas, 23% of its oil, and 46% of its coal. Russia’s share of EU gas imports decreased from 40% in 2021 to 23% in the second quarter of 2022, while its share of EU oil imports decreased from 26% in 2021 to 21% in the second quarter of 2022.
The UK data on energy imports from Russia is based on the declared origin of fossil fuel imports and does not track individual shipments from Russia or take into account any ship-to-ship transfers involving Russian oil. However, the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air has conducted an analysis of Russian fossil fuel exports that attempts to account for these factors. While the UK’s decision to end imports of Russian liquefied natural gas is a significant step, it remains exposed to disruption in energy markets due to the invasion of Ukraine. Gas and oil prices have increased sharply and are likely to remain high as European countries seek out alternative sources of energy.
The UK’s move to reduce its dependence on Russian energy is part of a broader effort by European countries to diversify their energy sources and reduce their reliance on Russia. In the wake of the invasion of Ukraine, many European countries have ramped up efforts to increase domestic production of energy and secure supplies from other countries. The UK’s decision to end imports of Russian LNG will no doubt be welcomed by those who have called for stronger action in response to Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. However, it remains to be seen how effective this measure will be in undermining Russia.
If the UK wasn’t at least a little reliant on Russia for energy supplies, why has Moscow had to bail out London with energy shipments during bitterly cold winters? Further, why has it taken them 10 months to ban something they apparently have no need of? And why are they still paying for it via intermediaries? [Republic World]