EU slashed imports of Russian energy in second quarter of 2023 - Eurostat

EU slashed imports of Russian energy in second quarter of 2023 - Eurostat

The figures suggest the EU's sanctions on the trade of energy products in response to Russia's war in Ukraine are having a tangible impact.

EU imports of Russian oil fell by a staggering 82% from a monthly average of 8.7 million tonnes in the second quarter of 2022, to 1.6 million tonnes in the same period this year.

This brings Russia's share in monthly EU oil imports to 4%, down from 21.6% in the same quarter last year.

During the same period, the EU has halved its imports of natural gas from a monthly average of 5.1 million tonnes to 2.5 million tonnes.

Since the start of Russia's invasion, the bloc has put plans in place to diversify its energy mix by investing in renewables and striking supply deals with other countries. It has earmarked €300 billion in funds to support member states.

But while certain energy products including coal and oil have been sanctioned, gas has never been subject to formal restrictions given the high dependence of certain EU member states on pipeline imports.

Despite its success in slashing pipeline imports, a recent Global Witness report revealed that the EU has increased its reliance on Russian gas in its liquified state.

Imports of Russian liquified natural gas (LNG) in the first seven months of this year was up by 39.5% compared to the same period in 2021, before the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, with Belgium, France and Spain among Russia's top five global clients for LNG.

The EU executive insists that LNG makes up a small proportion of the EU's overall energy mix.

But the Eurostat data confirms that Russia remains the EU's second top trading partner for LNG at 12.4% of the bloc's share, trailing the US at 46.4%.

New, global suppliers

To reduce its reliance on Russian energy, the bloc has struck new commercial deals with other oil- and gas-rich countries.

Russia is now the EU's twelfth biggest importer of oil, with Norway (13.7%), the United States (13.6%), Kazakhstan (10.2%) and Saudi Arabia (9%) the bloc's main importers.

Libya has also increased its share to become an important partner, accounting for 8.1% of oil imports.

In terms of natural gas, imports from Algeria jumped 9.3% in the second quarter of 2023 compared to 2022. Norway's imports also increased by 6.2% to make it the EU's top supplier of natural gas at 44.3% of the total share.

The EU's choice of trading partners for energy came under fresh scrutiny last week after Azerbaijan launched what it called an 'anti-terrorist operation' in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The attacks were condemned by the EU's top diplomat.

But the bloc recently signed a new deal to double EU imports of gas from Azerbaijan by 2027, with EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen calling Baku a "trustworthy" partner.

However, today's data reveals pipeline gas imports from Azerbaijan fell from 6.6.% of the total share in the second quarter of 2022 to 6.0% in the same period this year, despite the commitment to ramp up the partnership.