Belgium uses record volumes of Russian LNG

Of Belgium's gas consumption last year, 7.6 per cent came from Russia, De Tijd writes on Wednesday, based on the Belgian Energy Data Overview published by the FPS Economy. This represents an increase of 2 per cent compared to 2022.

While Russia shut down its pipelines to Europe soon after its invasion of Ukraine, it has been sending more and more LNG by ship to European ports to take advantage of the rising energy prices.

The port of Zeebrugge and its transhipment terminal played an important role in this process. In 2023, more than half of all LNG arriving in Zeebrugge came from Russia. In 2015, terminal owner Fluxys signed a 1 billion euro contract with the Russian company Yamal to tranship its LNG.

Despite concerns about supply issues, the European Commission introduced the first sanctions on Russian gas in June. Transhipment to non-European countries is no longer allowed. The sanctions do not affect Europe's use of Russian LNG, as Russian vessels are still allowed to unload LNG to supply European customers.

Risky consequences

The idea behind the sanctions is that Russian ships will have to go further afield to unload their LNG. But Russian energy suppliers could also decide to unload more LNG in Europe instead, jeopardising the EU's ambition to be independent of Russian fossil fuels by 2027.

The report also notes that Belgium's overall energy consumption is at its lowest level since 1995. This is also linked to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and the energy crisis that followed.

"The crisis led to a change in consumption patterns, mainly for natural gas, electricity and petroleum products, among companies and households," says the FPS.



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