Half of Britain’s imports of liquefied natural gas so far this year have come from Russia, illustrating how UK households have started sending more money to Moscow after Vladimir Putin made boosting exports of the super-cooled fuel a priority.
Russia has accounted for three of a total of six LNG shipments that have arrived since early January in the UK, whose tensions with Moscow have risen to the highest level since the Cold War following an alleged Russian nerve gas attack in Salisbury.
All three Russian shipments have come from the Yamal LNG project in Siberia that was targeted by US sanctions before its start-up late last year, though shipments themselves are not restricted.
Yamal’s opening, which was hailed by Mr Putin as boon for the Russian economy and evidence of its ability to withstand sanctions, has unleashed a wave of Russian LNG, with cargoes destined for the UK and on the US east coast.
The UK cargoes have a shone spotlight on the UK’s increasingly import-dependent energy strategy, with declining North Sea output and limited storage in the country.
While LNG imports make up only a small portion of UK gas demand, estimated at 3-5 per cent so far in 2018, the total could grow following the shutdown of the country’s main Rough storage site, which has left the country’s gas supplies more vulnerable to price spikes if pipeline outages or particularly cold weather coincide.
“We rely fairly heavy on imports of gas to get through the winter,” said Trevor Sikorski, chief gas analyst at Energy Aspects in London.
“Having closed down our largest storage facility we face a lot more volatility around prices and potentially higher prices.”