Russian exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) rose in October to their highest level since March, vessel-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg showed on Wednesday, in a sign that the world—including Europe—is scrambling to reduce dependence on Russian gas.
In October, Russia’s LNG exports increased by 1.1% compared to October 2021 to the level last seen in March, just after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Europe hasn’t sanctioned Russian LNG or pipeline gas, but buyers have tried to shun Russian cargoes where possible. The EU is considering a price cap on gas, but deliberations continue as the member states are divided on the issue.
Unlike the rise in LNG exports, Russia’s pipeline gas exports to Europe are at very low levels after Gazprom cut off all gas supply to several EU countries for their refusal to pay in rubles for gas. Gazprom also started to reduce supply via the Nord Stream pipeline to Germany in June, claiming an inability to service gas turbine maintenance outside Russia due to the Western sanctions against Moscow for the invasion of Ukraine. The Russian gas firm halted Nord Stream in early September, while the pipeline was found to have been sabotaged at the end of that month.
Still, Russia’s LNG exports remain strong, and the top importers of the cargoes – although nearly half of them are still en route to their final destinations – were France, China, and Japan, according to the data compiled by Bloomberg.
Traders have told Bloomberg that China is buying a lot of Russian LNG to take advantage of a discount for Russian cargoes compared to the prices on the spot market.
In September, Chinese imports of LNG from Russia rose by one-third compared to the same month of 2021, according to Chinese customs data cited by Bloomberg. All imports of LNG into China were down by 12% in September.