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3 March 2022

How UK imports of Russian liquefied natural gas have doubled

Russian gas now accounts for more than 6 per cent of all of the UK’s natural gas imports, up from just 3.2 per cent in 2018.

By Katharine Swindells

Two tankers of Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) are due to dock in Kent on 6 March, due to a loophole in the government’s ban on Russian ships. Workers are unsure whether they can refuse to unload the cargo, says the trade union Unison.

The law, passed earlier this week, bans all Russian ships from docking in UK ports, but is so far unclear about non-Russian vessels carrying Russian imports, with workers calling on the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, to clarify the ban.

The UK has only recently become reliant on Russia for LNG, with imports increasing since the commercial opening of the Yamal gas plant in 2017.

In 2018, the UK imported 16,684 gigawatt hours (GWh) of LNG from Russia and by 2021 that quantity had more than doubled to almost 34,000 GWh. Russian gas now accounts for more than 6 per cent of all of the UK’s natural gas imports, both LNG and pipelines, up from just 3.2 per cent in 2018.

Analysis by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) found that if imports continued at this level it could equate to spending of more than £2bn per year to Russia. 

“Although not at the same level of some other European countries, the UK has been spending billions of pounds on Russian gas that could now be being used to fund Putin’s war in Ukraine,” said Simon Cran-McGreehin, head of analysis at the ECIU.

[See also: Could China stop Russia going nuclear?]

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