Russian LNG: what measures will help the EU kick the habit?

Publishing date
05 June 2023
Picture of a stack of newspapers
Picture of the title of the 01/06/2023 newsletter including Simone Tagliapietra

2022 will enter energy annals as the year of the great decoupling between the European Union and Russia. When it comes to gas, Russian pipeline exports contributed around 40% to the EU’s total gas supply prior to the invasion of Ukraine and today account for less than 10%. However, as pipeline gas flows decreased during 2022, Russian LNG exports to Europe, albeit much more limited in volume, kept going.

In the 12 months following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the EU imported €12 billion worth of Russian LNG. Estimates suggest that unless there is a decisive change of direction from the current situation, the EU will send up to another €9 billion to Russia in the second year.

The EU has already implemented an embargo on the import of Russian oil, which accounted for €83 billion of export revenue to Russia in the first year after the invasion. There are now growing calls to end the import of Russian LNG.

In a forthcoming Bruegel policy brief, we will illustrate that this is a viable option. As LNG cargoes are traded by sea, they are considered somewhat fungible. If Russian LNG stops flowing into the EU, Russia will look to sell its supplies elsewhere at the same time that EU buyers will look for an alternative provider.

The EU can live without Russian LNG. But sensible preparations must be made. First, maintaining demand reduction at 15% below 5-year average is essential. Policymakers should shift as much of this demand reduction toward structural measures such as increasing energy efficiency, solar PV deployment and heat pump supply. They must also work towards reducing high prices in industry and households.

Second, special consideration should be afforded to the Iberian Peninsula, as this region will be the most affected by a phase-out. The EU Energy Platform can play an important role in securing alternative LNG cargoes, with particular consideration for the Iberian Peninsula. 


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About the authors

  • Simone Tagliapietra

    Simone Tagliapietra is a Senior fellow at Bruegel. He is also a Professor of EU Energy and Climate Policy at The Johns Hopkins University - School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) Europe.

    His research focuses on the EU climate and energy policy and on the political economy of global decarbonisation. With a record of numerous policy and scientific publications, also in leading journals such as Nature and Science, he is the author of Global Energy Fundamentals (Cambridge University Press, 2020) and co-author of The Macroeconomics of Decarbonisation (Cambridge University Press, 2024).

    His columns and policy work are widely published and cited in leading international media such as the BBC, CNN, Financial Times, The New York Times, The Economist, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Corriere della Sera, Le Monde, El Pais, and several others.

    Simone also is a Member of the Board of Directors of the Clean Air Task Force (CATF). He holds a PhD in Institutions and Policies from Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore. Born in the Dolomites in 1988, he speaks Italian, English and French.

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