By Chris King • 11 March 2023 • 23:50
Image of a ship transporting LNG.
Credit: The Mariner 4291/Shutterstock.com
According to the records of Enagas, the operator of the Spanish gas system, Spain continues to receive gas from Russia despite the war in Ukraine. Far from moderating purchases, these imports are actually increasing more and more.
So far this year, the weight of Russian gas arrivals in the Spanish market is gaining strength and Russia has already positioned itself as the country’s third-largest supplier, only behind Algeria, and the United States.
In January and February of this year, just one year after the start of the military invasion of Ukraine, purchases of Russian gas by Spanish energy companies reached 11,837 gigawatt hours (GWh). This figure almost triples the volume registered in the same months last year (+172%),
The European Union has launched several packages of sanctions against Russia to financially stifle the Government of Vladimir Putin and cut off its financing channels for the war in Ukraine. The blockade of Russian gas purchases has not yet been included among the many punitive measures. After a year of the war, Spain is becoming a major recipient of Russian gas by ship to later re-export it to other countries.
Since February of last year, when the invasion of Ukraine began, until the end of this February, Russian gas imports from Spanish energy companies have shot up by almost 68 per cent, exceeding 63,460 GWh, compared to 37,700. GWh of the previous thirteen months, as reported by laopiniondemurcia.es.
The energy sector points to different circumstances that explain the sustained increase in purchases from Russia over the past year. Imports respond in many cases to long-term contracts signed long before the invasion, which the companies justify cannot be broken without exposing themselves to million-dollar sanctions.
Part of the increase in arrivals corresponds to the diversion of methane tankers that were originally destined for other European countries but had to seek other destinations due to problems in European plants, especially during the past summer.
With a substantial part of the gas pipeline network between Russia and Europe at a standstill, Spain has become a priority destination for delivering Russian gas by ship thanks to its huge park of regasification plants. These concentrate a third of all the capacity of the EU, to later resell it to other countries.
According to the records of the Corporacion de Reservas Estrategicas (Cores), gas re-exports from Spain exceeded 72,000 GWh in the last twelve months. This represents a very strong increase of almost 92 per cent in just one year.
The Spanish government has repeatedly publicly expressed its preference that energy companies reduce their purchases of Russian gas, but assumes that companies can continue buying Russian gas since the European Union has not adopted a coordinated decision to veto its import.
So far this year, Russia has overtaken Nigeria to become the third-largest gas supplier to the Spanish market, with a share of almost 18 per cent of total imports.
Algeria confirmed in the first two months of the year the recovery of its position as Spain’s largest gas supplier, with a share of 24.2 per cent up to February. This is a position it held for almost half a century, but which was broken throughout last year by the United States, which now has to settle for second position, with 21.7 per cent of total purchases in these two months.
In the midst of the energy crisis and in the midst of spiralling energy prices, Algeria’s decision to close the largest of the pipelines supplying gas to Spain in October 2021 caused a turnaround in the structure of the country’s imports.
The closure of the Strait’s underwater pipeline forced Spain to increase the weight of gas purchases arriving by ship and ended up disrupting the ranking of supplier countries. In January 2022, Algeria lost its historical position as the largest gas supplier and was overtaken by the United States, which remained the largest supplier for the entire year, until January 2023.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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