- Several countries have cut energy ties with Russia, while others are snapping up cheap supplies.
- The US, UK, and some EU countries have all taken action.
- India and China, however, continue to maintain their oil and gas trade with Russia.
A divided approach toward the Russian energy trade has become more apparent in recent weeks.
While some nations have deliberated or announced bans on Russian oil and gas imports, others are doubling down.
When Russia launched an unprecedented attack on Ukraine earlier this year, Western nations joined forces to impose sanctions on the country in an effort to punish Russia for its actions.
Punitive measures range from blocking certain Russian banks from accessing the SWIFT global banking system to the EU and other European countries barring Russian flights from their airspace.
As the war continues, countries are now slapping sanctions on Russia’s energy sector, which has the world’s largest natural gas reserves and is the third-biggest oil producer, accounting for about 12% of global oil production.
Here’s how some countries are grappling with Russian energy issues.
Italy is tempering its reliance on Russian gas by turning to countries like Egypt and Algeria for their energy supplies.
Eni, the Italian oil and gas giant, recently signed a framework agreement with state-owned Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS), which it said would help maximize gas production and exports of liquefied natural gas.
Per Reuters, Italy sources around 40% of its gas imports from Russia. It has also agreed to ramp up its gas imports from Algeria by around 40% amid the war.
This month, the Baltic states comprising Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia cut Russian gas imports.
“Since April 1st, Russian natural gas is no longer flowing to Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania,” Uldis Bariss, CEO of Conexus Baltic Grid, Latvia’s natural gas storage operator, per Al Jazeera.
Lithuania became the first European country to abandon Russian energy supplies in the wake of the Ukraine war. “If we can do it, the rest of Europe can do it too!” the country’s president, Gitanas Nauseda said on Twitter.
Outside of Europe, the US banned Russian oil and gas imports too. President Joe Biden announced the “powerful blow” against Russian President Vladimir Putin last month.
“This is a step that we’re taking to inflict further pain on Putin, but there will be costs as well here in the United States,” Biden said. “I’m going to do everything I can to minimize Putin’s price hike here at home.”
American consumers are feeling the effects of surging gas prices as a result of pandemic-era inflation, coupled with the new sanctions imposed on Russian energy supplies. In March, the average US gas price-per-gallon jumped above $4 for the first time since 2008.
The UK government recently announced measures against Russian energy supplies, pledging to end all imports of Russian coal and oil by the end of 2022.
“By the end of 2022, the UK will end all dependency on Russian coal and oil, and end imports of gas as soon as possible thereafter,” the government said.
It added that the UK would also ban the export of key oil refining equipment and catalysts, “degrading Russia’s ability to produce and export oil.”
Further sanctions include measures against Aleksander Dyukov, the CEO of Russia’s third-largest and majority state-owned oil producer Gazprom Neft.
The country faces escalating pressures to pull away from Russian energy, though it has been heavily relying on it, particularly the natural gas that’s through the Nord Stream pipeline network.
However, cutting Russian ties may prove a lengthy process.
Cutting Russian gas from the German economy would significantly impact its manufacturing industry and could lead to rationing schemes, Insider’s Ben Winck reported.
Per Bloomberg, German chancellor Olaf Scholz said: “We are actively working to get independent from the necessity of importing gas from Russia. This is, as you may imagine, not that easy because it needs infrastructure that has to be built first.”
Amid a wave of countries cutting Russian energy supplies, India and China stand have taken a different approach.
As sweeping sanctions hit Russia’s oil exports, prices shot down so much that some buyers from India and China were attracted to snapping up cheap Russian energy, Insider’s Huileng Tan reported.
Reuters reported that since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, India had bought at least 13 million barrels of Russian oil. It’s not stopping at cheap oil, however. Russian coal remains on India’s radar.
Ramchandra Prasad Singh, an Indian politician and member of parliament, said at a conference in New Delhi that India is “moving in the direction of importing coking coal from Russia,” per Reuters. He added that India had imported 4.5 million tons of Russian coal but he did not indicate over what time period.
As for China, the country is snapping up Russian oil and coal with its own currency. Smaller independent refiners in China are also still buying Russian oil discreetly, Reuters recently reported.