How British Companies Keep Russian Gas Flowing into Europe: Understanding Putin’s Machine’s Key Component

A Scottish company based in Glasgow has found itself in the center of a story that connects Europe’s dependence on Russian gas with Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine. This company, called Seapeak, owns and operates a fleet of liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers, including the Yakov Gakkel, which is one of the world’s most advanced LNG tankers.

Although the world is moving towards renewable energy sources, natural gas remains a vital energy source for Europe’s heating, power, and industries. In the past, transporting natural gas from one part of the world to another was done through long, expensive, and vulnerable pipelines. However, LNG tankers like the Yakov Gakkel have made it possible to transport gas through the sea to any terminal capable of converting it back into a usable form.

What sets the Yakov Gakkel apart from other LNG tankers is its ability to navigate through ice, allowing it to travel to the Arctic Circle and back even in the winter. This ship constantly travels between Siberia and Europe, bringing large volumes of gas to the continent. This has been a crucial factor in ensuring Europe’s gas supply during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, despite efforts to reduce the continent’s reliance on Russian gas.

Although European policymakers had previously declared their intention to reduce their dependence on Russian gas, the reality is that Europe still relies on it for around 15% of its gas needs. And while the US has stepped in to make up for some of the lost volumes, Russia has recently overtaken the US as the second biggest provider of gas to Europe. This is due to Russia’s increasing LNG exports to Europe, which have helped replenish the continent’s gas stores and keep its heavy industries running.

The Yakov Gakkel and other LNG tankers continue to transport Russian gas to Europe, with most of it ending up in countries such as Belgium, France, and Spain. This has helped keep the continent’s economy afloat, but it comes at a cost. Since 2022, Europe has paid Russia around €10bn for LNG imports, making it one of the country’s most lucrative trades.

What’s even more surprising is that a British company, Seapeak, is a part-owner and operator of this crucial trade. The company’s operational headquarters can be found in Glasgow, where they operate a fleet of LNG tankers, including the Yakov Gakkel. Despite multiple attempts to reach out to Seapeak for comment, they did not respond. However, it is not illegal for a British company to facilitate this trade, highlighting the loopholes in the UK sanctions regime.

While the UK has imposed sanctions on Russian oil tankers, there are no such restrictions on LNG tankers. In fact, many of these tankers are insured by British companies operating in the Square Mile. The UK P&I Club, which insures the Yakov Gakkel, stated that they comply with all applicable sanctions regulations and would adjust or withdraw their services if necessary.

The transport of Russian gas into Europe is just one example of the weaknesses in the UK sanctions regime. Despite concerns from government ministers, there is little indication that they plan on tightening these loopholes. This has allowed ships like the Yakov Gakkel to continue transporting billions of cubic meters of gas from Siberia to Europe, fueling the Russian economy and its military capabilities.

In the end, Europe is left in a difficult situation. While it continues to depend on Russian gas, it also claims to be taking measures to counter Putin’s actions. However, given the potential consequences of reducing this gas supply, there is little appetite for change. The uncomfortable truth is that Europe’s dependence on Russian gas has played a significant role in ending the continent’s cost of living crisis.

Share this article
Shareable URL
Prev Post

Conservative Party devises plan to rally support from small and medium enterprise supporters in final effort to sway election outcome

Next Post

Fox Corporation’s Tubi streaming service now available for free in UK

Read next