Purchases of the fuel by the bloc were boosted last year to make up for lost pipeline supplies from Moscow
EU energy ministers are working on a plan that would allow member-states to block shipments of Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) without introducing sanctions, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday citing a draft proposal.
According to the report, the plan involves giving national governments legal power to temporarily prevent Russian exporters from up-front booking of infrastructure capacity they need for deliveries. The mechanism aims to further reduce the region's dependence on Russian energy products.
The proposal is set to be discussed by the EU ministers at a meeting on Tuesday. In order to become law, it would also have to be approved by the European Parliament.
The bloc stepped up efforts to lower energy dependence on Russia early last year, and has already banned Moscow's seaborne oil deliveries and joined the G7 countries in placing a price cap on Russian crude. The country's gas deliveries to Europe have dropped to record lows in recent months due to Ukraine-related sanctions and the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines.
However, to make up for the lost pipeline gas, the bloc has been boosting imports of LNG, including from Russia. According to Brussels-based economic think-tank Bruegel, in 2022, the EU's LNG imports from Russia reached a three-year high, at 19.2 billion cubic meters.
Earlier this month, EU energy chief Kadri Simson called on member-states to stop importing Russian LNG, urging companies not to renew long-term contracts for the deliveries once the current ones end. Last week reports emerged that Spain, the EU's top buyer of Russian LNG, had also asked importers not to enter into new agreements for obtaining the fuel from Moscow.
Analysts say, however, that the EU is unlikely to place an outright ban on Russian LNG.
"Russian LNG has to continue to flow... We need that on the global LNG balance: it is already tight enough as it is. I think most European countries are indeed happy to turn a blind eye on this," Anne-Sophie Corbeau, a researcher at Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy, told Bloomberg.
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