26.09.23 / #LNG #embargo #Arctic_LNG-2 #climateaction / Press Release

How Ukraine fights for the European embargo on Russian liquefied natural gas

26 September 2023 / Kyiv / Press-release


The next 12th package of EU sanctions, which is expected to be adopted in October, should include a full embargo on Russian liquefied natural gas, and this can be achieved through joint efforts of the public, MPs, executive authorities and diplomats, concluded the participants of the press briefing "Sanctions against Russian LNG: contribution to Ukraine's victory and climate rescue" held at Ukraine Crisis Media Center on September 26.

"We see the sale of liquefied natural gas by Russia as a real threat to us and to Europe. For us - because the Russians continue to make a lot of money on this, and for European countries - because they do not learn from their own mistakes. Previously, they were dependent on imports of Russian gas through pipelines, and now many countries continue to import it in a liquefied form," said Andriy Zhupanin, MP, Chairman of the United for Recovery, an inter-factional parliamentary association.

The MP also pointed out that Spain, France and Belgium have increased their imports of Russian LNG this year, and that this contradicts the EU's sanctions policy aimed at weakening the aggressor country's economy.

"Perhaps European companies see this as an attractive opportunity to earn additional gas dollars, but our goal is to cut off this way of earning money for the Russians, and sanctions are one of the most effective ways in our opinion. We have already seen reactions to the US sanctions from certain companies involved in the construction of the new LNG terminal, which are studying the situation and thinking about what to do. A Japanese company has issued a statement that they will comply with the sanctions," Zhupanin said. 

The MP also referred to the fact that on September 18, at a joint meeting of the Committee on Energy, Housing and Utilities of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy of the European Parliament, he called on his European colleagues to speed up decision-making on the 12th EU sanctions package, support the US sanctions policy and impose an embargo on Russian liquefied natural gas.

The sanctions imposed by the United States on September 14 target the Arctic LNG-2 project, a joint venture between the Russian private company Novatek and France's Total Energies, which was planned to be commissioned by the end of this year and use the “Saam FSU” and “Koryak FSU” floating gas storage facilities to transfer LNG from Russian Arctic tankers to conventional tankers of international traders, including European companies. For the existing Yamal LNG project, LNG storage and transshipment capacities are provided by European ports with the appropriate infrastructure. The largest among them is the port of Zeebrugge in Belgium. 

"The imposition of sanctions by the United States against Russia's liquefied natural gas export infrastructure is a powerful signal to the governments of EU countries that are still involved in the trade of Russian LNG that they should at least ban its transshipment in their own ports and re-export to world markets. But more decisive action is needed to stop Putin's bloody regime and its oil and gas expansion that threatens the entire world. A full embargo on Russian liquefied natural gas is an obvious and necessary step that the EU and the US should take to implement their own security and climate policies. Russia's gas expansion in the Arctic is a threat to all of us today, both geopolitically and environmentally, and if we don't stop it now, it may be too late," said Oleh Savytskyi, campaign manager at Razom We Stand.

According to Bohdan Ustymenko, director of the Ukrainian Institute of Security and Maritime Law, the sanctions imposed by the US are a significant but half-hearted step, and Russia is already taking steps to circumvent them. In particular, “Saam FSU”  has been re-registered as owned by a Chinese company. The expert emphasized that blocking the assets of “Arctic Transshipment”, a subsidiary of Novatek, and the ban on potential transshipment of Russian LNG at sea is not enough, and a full embargo is needed to effectively counter Russian expansion in the Arctic.

"For the Russian Federation, the Arctic and the Arctic Ocean are of paramount importance for economic development. Marine resources are of great importance for Putin's Russia. In 2022, after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the third edition of the Russian Federation's maritime doctrine was adopted. It puts the Arctic in the first place, and the Northern Sea Route in the Arctic Ocean is a national treasure of the Russian Federation. Russia has banned ships from other countries from entering the Northern Sea Route illegally, despite the fact that a significant part of it is outside the territorial waters of the Russian Federation. Only a complete embargo against the Russian Federation can radically change the situation. Russia is constantly finding loopholes in the sanctions and somehow manages to circumvent new sanctions in 2-3 months," Ustymenko said.

Novatek aims to launch the first phase of the Arctic LNG-2 terminal by the end of this year and reach full capacity of nearly 20 million tons of LNG per year by 2026. As Svitlana Romanko, Director and Founder of Razom We Stand, recently noted in her column, the expansion of Novatek's export capacity will not only boost the aggressor country's economy, but will also have climate-damaging consequences due to the extremely high methane emissions in the Russian LNG supply chain.

"Adding companies that violate or circumvent sanctions to the Ukrainian list is very important. We have examples where such companies are denied service and accounts in the United States. One of the recent successes is 3 months of pressure from politicians, media and the public on the American oilfield services company Schlumberger. Despite the scepticism, the company eventually left the Russian market. So I am sure that the joint work of the Government, Parliament, the public and journalists will force Total and other major buyers of Russian gas to stop financing the war," said Agiya Zagrebelska, Head of the Department for Minimizing Corruption Risks in Sanctions Policy at the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption.

The private company Novatek, owned by Russian oligarchs Leonid Mikhelson and Gennadiy Timchenko, is the main supplier of Russian liquefied natural gas to international markets. Mikhelson and Timchenko are members of Vladimir Putin's inner circle and, with the assistance of his regime, have seized stakes in Russian oil and gas projects from international companies. "Novatek is the largest private natural gas producer in Russia.

"Novatek is the majority owner (50.1% of shares) of Russia's largest LNG terminal, Yamal LNG, and is currently implementing the Arctic LNG-2 project, which aims to significantly increase sales of Russian LNG on international markets and could double the company's export capacity.
According to official statements released on March 9, 2023, Russia plans to almost triple its LNG export capacity by 2030, from the current 35 million tons per year to 100 million tons per year.

The Ukrainian public believes that Western governments have no excuse for not taking action to curb Russia's gas expansion in the Arctic, and calls on them to act immediately and decisively to stop Arctic LNG 2 and other Russian oil and gas infrastructure projects that could have devastating consequences for international security, Arctic ecosystems, and the global climate.

Media contacts:

Jason Kirkpatrick, [email protected]
Snr. Communications Mgr., Razom We Stand'

Maxim Gardus, [email protected]
Communications Manager, Razom We Stand

Photos of the speakers from the press briefing are available here:

The Ukrainian group Razom We Stand, founded at the beginning of the war with Russia in 2022, campaigns to end the war by reducing fossil fuel exports from Russia, continuously advocates for a comprehensive and complete embargo on Russian fossil fuels, and works for a green rebuilding of Ukraine with clean energy, for a better climate and a better future. 
Find out more here: https://razomwestand.org/en/about-us