19 October 2023 — Kyiv / Berlin / Paris
Investigations published today by Der Spiegel / ZDF and Le Monde – incorporating research and analysis by the Anti-Corruption Data Collective and drawing on contributions and inspiration from the campaign to stop Russian fossil fuel export expansion initiated by Razom We Stand - reveal the critical role played by European companies in the construction of Arctic LNG 2, a massive new gas extraction and liquefaction project in the far north of Siberia, which continued after Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.
In April 2022, the EU banned the export of specific LNG industry hardware to Russia. These sanctions came into force on 27 May 2022. Der Spiegel reports that German-founded engineering firm Linde committed to supplying Arctic LNG 2 with heat exchangers in 2018, four years after Russia illegally annexed Crimea when the US sanctioned Novatek, the project lead.
While publicly announcing it was stopping any new projects in Russia after the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Linde completed its contracts for Arctic LNG 2, sending at least three shipments to Russia, including one registered by Russian customs on June 1, 2022. The actual delivery may have taken place earlier before the sanctions deadline.
In France, Le Monde reports that Technip signed up to manage the international dimensions of the project in 2019, then hurried to complete as much of the work as possible before the EU sanctions came into force.
Razom We Stand has continually highlighted Russia's aggressive expansion of its gas infrastructure in the Arctic, which raises alarming concerns over massive methane emissions with potentially catastrophic climate impacts.
Data Desk conducted research for the reporting by Der Spiegel and Le Monde.
Sanctions swirl, but contracts continued
Despite sanctions, Western engineering companies have been able to continue supplying Arctic LNG 2 with their high-tech components legally. As a result, the first production line of the project was completed on time in July 2023. If the remaining two parts are completed, Arctic LNG 2 will produce 19 million tonnes of LNG annually and support the Kremlin’s goal of exploiting the Northern Sea Route to export 100 million tonnes of LNG annually. The project has been included on a list of ‘carbon bombs’ that will emit over a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere during their lifetime. In 2021, a group of almost 40 MEPs criticised the project for its impact on the climate, environment and rights of indigenous communities.
Previous research by Data Desk, an investigative consultancy ACDC member, has shown that companies from the UK, Italy and the US have shipped hardware to Arctic LNG 2 since February 2022. Russian customs records show that US$400 million of equipment from Europe has been delivered to the project’s main trading company since the invasion of Ukraine.
In September 2023, the U.S. State Department imposed sanctions on companies central to the construction and operation of Arctic LNG 2 and their subsidiaries.
A coalition of Ukrainian civil society organisations, including Razom We Stand, is calling for the European Commission to go further in the upcoming twelfth round of EU sanctions against Russia and take action to stop the build-out of Arctic LNG 2 and other Russian mega projects. Ukrainians highlight that there is no excuse for Western governments not acting to defuse Russia's gas expansion in the Arctic.
"Thousands of Ukrainians have been killed by Russian rockets, bullets and bombs in Ukraine while the EU boosted their LNG imports from Russia. We still wait for the EU to enforce effective sanctions against Russia’s energy sector. The lethal Russian weapons were largely paid for by growing Russian LNG exports that were facilitated by European companies. How can democratic and supportive European leaders, on the one hand, say they are against the Russian brutality done against us while, on the other hand, allowing European companies to continue supporting Russia’s fossil gas expansion? We demand that the EU finally impose an effective ban on the transhipment of Russian LNG in European ports and enforce export control against any equipment, software or technology provision for Putin's pet projects like Arctic LNG 2", said Svitlana Romanko, Director of Ukrainian NGO Razom We Stand.
“It’s tempting to think that, after US and later EU sanctions, Western companies would have seen supplying Arctic LNG 2 as simply too risky, but the lure of this lucrative Russian business seems to have been too great. Pouring over Russian customs data and satellite imagery, we found that companies like Linde and Technip have gone down to the wire in order to keep their Russian customers happy”, - said Sam Leon, partner at Data Desk and a member of ACDC’s Executive Committee.
For media inquiries and further information, please contact:
Jason Kirkpatrick - Senior Communications Manager[email protected]
Notes to editors
Professional photos of Svitlana Romanko are available here, copyright-free unless otherwise noted on the image.
Ukrainian group Razom We Stand, founded at the beginning of Russia's war in 2022, campaigns to end the war by cutting Russia's exports of fossil fuels, has continuously advocated for a comprehensive and fully enforced embargo on Russian fossil fuels and works towards a green rebuilding of Ukraine with clean energy, for a better climate and better future.
Learn more here: https://razomwestand.org/en/about-us
Paper Trail Media, founded by ACDC co-founder Frederik Obermaier, produced the investigation in partnership with Der Spiegel. The production of this investigation was supported by a grant from the Investigative Journalism for Europe (IJ4EU) fund.
For immediate release
Kyiv, November 14, 2023
Unveiling Stricter Sanctions on Russia’s Fossil Fuels and Arctic LNG Expansion
October 30, 2023
Special report from Berlin
by Maksym Gardus, Razom We Stand
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