Spain, Europe's biggest buyer of liquefied natural gas from Russia, is urging importers not to sign new contracts with Moscow as it seeks to sever ties after the invasion of Ukraine.
This is reported by Bloomberg.
LNG importers in Spain have received a letter from the government advising companies not to sign up for new purchases from Russia. The Spanish government's request is not binding, as there are currently no sanctions.
Naturgy Energy Group SA, Repsol SA, TotalEnergies SE, Axpo Holding AG, Pavilion Energy, Enagás SA, Met Energy, Enet Energy, Energias de Portugal SA, Company Española de Petroleos SA and BP Gas & Power Iberia received a letter dated March 14 from Deputy of Prime Minister Teresa Ribera, who is responsible for Spain's energy policy.
The letter does not directly mention spot contracts, but contains a general call to "intensify the diversification of liquefied natural gas supplies and abandon supplies from Russia." Axpo, Repsol and Enagás responded to the report by saying they are not buying LNG from Russia.
Gas flows to Europe via pipelines from Russia have fallen to historic lows since the Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine last year. To make up for the shortfall, supplies of LNG from around the world have surged, particularly from Russia, and are not subject to EU sanctions. However, Great Britain and the Baltic countries have already stopped purchasing Russian LNG. Spain has almost doubled its imports of Russian LNG since the start of the war in Ukraine last year, underscoring how dependent Europe still is on Moscow.
Earlier this month, the European Union's energy chief, Kadri Simson, called for an end to those supplies, saying companies should not extend long-term contracts beyond the current ones. She did not announce any specific measures.
According to Bloomberg data, this year Spain is the largest buyer of Russian LNG in the EU. The country was forced to seek additional purchases last year after supplies from longtime gas supplier Algeria were cut due to a diplomatic spat between the two countries.
Spain receives Russian gas only in the form of LNG, as its energy company Naturgy Energy Group SA has a 20-year contract to buy fuel from Yamala LNG in the Arctic until 2038.
In January, the German government said it wanted to limit imports of Russian liquefied natural gas, without specifying how it would do so. So far, the EU has refrained from discussing any bans at the regional level.