Latest Russian sanctions package could have major impact on port of Zeebrugge

On Thursday, the Belgian presidency of the EU announced an agreement on the 14th set of sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. According to leaked details, the sanctions will for the first time target Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG), which could have a major impact on the port of Zeebrugge.

Details of the sanctions will not be made public until Monday, when European Foreign ministers are expected to formally adopt them. But some details have been leaked, including that Russian LNG will be targeted for the first time.

There will not be an outright ban, as there is on Russian oil and coal. Ships coming from Russia will still be able to unload LNG in Europe to supply European customers. But transhipment to other countries will no longer be allowed.

This was a difficult compromise for Belgium because the Zeebrugge transhipment terminal is one of the main access points for LNG in Europe. In 2023, more than half of all LNG arriving in Zeebrugge came from Russia.

Fluxys impacted

In a reaction to De Tijd on Thursday, Fluxys, which owns the transhipment terminal, said it was too early to say how severe the impact of the sanctions would be. In 2015, the company signed a long-term contract worth 1 billion euros with the Russian company Yamal to tranship Russian LNG.

Fluxys has long been criticised for continuing to tranship Russian LNG. NGOs and environmental organisations have called for a ban, and the Ukrainian National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption included the company in its 2023 list of International Sponsors of War.

The company has always said that as long as there are no sanctions, it is obliged to meet its contractual obligations with all customers, including those from Russia. But it will be forced to comply with the EU and could face claims for damages from Yamal as a result.

In response to the news, Fluxys shares fell by more than 6 per cent on Thursday, to their lowest level in 15 years.



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