A tanker of Russian liquified natural gas (LNG) on its way to the Isle of Grain, UK has been diverted, after a successful protest from dock workers who said they would refuse to unload the ship’s wares, the Guardian reported.
The gas was intended for British energy group Centrica, with the firm using a loophole in a recent UK Government ban on Russian vessels entering British ports.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced the ban at the beginning of this week, writing on Twitter: “Today I’ve written to all UK ports asking them not to provide access to any Russian flagged, registered, owned, controlled, chartered, or operated vessels. Given Putin’s action in #Ukraine I’ve made clear these vessels are NOT welcome here, with prohibiting legislation to follow.”
Centrica was reportedly intending to still receive LNG from the Russian vessel as the gas itself did not come from Russia, and the ban does not apply to the origin of cargo being imported. As a result of the loophole, Russian oil tankers successfully docked this week, mooring at Foyle Port and Liverpool.
Trade union Unison, which represented the Isle of Grain dockers, is urging the government to address this loophole and prevent any Russian tankers from reaching UK shores.
Russia is currently the main supplier of oil and gas to Europe, and this dependency has been the subject of concern as the nation’s attack on neighbouring Ukraine grows increasingly violent. Responding to the invasion, Western governments have been encouraging businesses to cut ties with Russia and imposed a host of sanctions intended to isolate Russia economically.
Reliance on Russia for energy needs has, however, heightened fears over the sanctions’ impacts on the energy market, and the IEA has today released a 10-point plan to reduce reliance on Russian supplies by a third.
According to the agency, the EU imported 155 billion cubic metres of natural gas from Russia last year, accounting for around 45% of EU gas imports.
“Nobody is under any illusions anymore. Russia’s use of its natural gas resources as an economic and political weapon shows that Europe needs to act quickly to be ready to face considerable uncertainty over Russian gas supplies next winter,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol. “Europe needs to rapidly reduce the dominant role of Russia in its energy markets and ramp up the alternatives as quickly as possible.”