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You Don't Own Me - What Will It Take for Europe to Give Up Russian Gas?

The fallout from Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has been multifold, with the human tragedy front and center. But it’s also reverberated across world economies as governments move to sanction Russia and corporations cut their ties with it. In a bid to minimize the impact on energy supplies and prices, the U.S. and its European allies have been grappling with how best to wean themselves from Russian crude oil and natural gas. That was relatively easy for the U.S. — the Russian import ban announced earlier this week by President Biden is likely to have only minor side effects. But the challenges for Europe are far greater due to its significant dependence on Russian supplies. If you’re stateside and trying to make sense of the market implications of all that — and trying to wrap your head around Europe’s energy infrastructure (and its approach to discussing energy volumes) — you’re not alone. In today’s RBN blog, we begin a look at what the European response could mean for the global LNG market.

Let’s start with the flurry of recent announcements, with the U.S., UK and European Union all moving to cut or curtail Russian oil and gas imports. The Biden administration on March 8 announced an immediate ban on Russian energy supplies into U.S. ports, including crude oil, LNG and coal. In concert with the U.S., the UK followed with its own plan — to ban all imports of oil and refined products from Russia but take a more phased approach, with the goal to end them by the end of 2022, given its heavier dependence on Russian oil. The UK’s plan does not include natural gas or LNG. On the natural gas side, however, the European Commission (EC), which represents the 27 countries in the European Union (EU), on March 8 announced plans to reduce imports from Russia — which make up 40% of Europe’s gas supply — by two-thirds by the end of this year. The plan echoed and built on elements of a plan outlined by the International Energy Agency (IEA) last week for the EU to reduce Russian gas imports by more than one-third within a year.

We recently dissected the impacts of a potential (now real) ban on Russian oil to the U.S. — in particular, the implications for U.S. refineries — in We’re Not Gonna Take It. Banning Russian supplies is a much bigger deal for Europe, however, especially when it comes to its natural gas requirements. So, we now turn our attention to the European gas situation, putting the EC/EU’s plan in the context of the continent’s gas market landscape, what the curtailments could look like and implications for the global LNG market, including exports from the U.S., given its increasing role as marginal LNG supplier in global LNG trade.

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