Tags: emmanuel macron | russia | lng | ukraine | france | eu

France's Macron Buying Up Russian Gas

By    |   Saturday, 13 April 2024 11:09 AM EDT

French President Emmanuel Macron has positioned himself as being one of the strongest defenders of Ukraine but already this year, more deliveries of Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) have gone to France than to any other country in the European Union compared to last year.

According to data analyzed by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) think tank for Politico, France has spent just over $640 million for gas supplies from Russia since the beginning of the year, leading to complaints of hypocrisy from other nations.

"It cannot be that France, on the one hand, says that we have to be harsh with Russia, and on the other hand, is paying them off with big money," said one EU country's diplomat, speaking anonymously to allow him to speak frankly.

In recent months, however, Macron has been taking a hard line publicly against Moscow, including urging allies not to be "cowards" and refusing to rule out sending troops to fight in Ukraine.

The French government says buying LNG from Russia is necessary to keep European supplies flowing and that it has been locked in a long-term agreement that is too difficult to escape.

Russia's fossil fuel revenues account for about half of the Kremlin's budget, with funding taking a hit from sanctions; and critics are saying that Paris can do more to stop the gas purchases.

However, the critics say that Paris is not taking action because of resistance from TotalEnergies, France's national energy giant.

TotalEnergies has a 20% stake in the Yamal LNG project, which has a liquefaction plant in northwestern Siberia, which is majority-owned by a Russian private energy firm, Novatek.

Because of a long-term contract, TotalEnergies must buy at least 4 million tons of LNG from the Siberian facility every year until 2032.

TotalEnergies is also bound by a long-term contract with Yamal LNG in the Netherlands, where Dutch officials say the French company has never responded to requests to reduce imports since 2022.

A TotalEnergies spokesman would not comment on the Dutch government discussions but said the company complies with EU laws.

France's Economy Ministry, meanwhile said the Russian LNG "issue is neither about TotalEnergies' contract or activities," but instead about risking new sanctions for the full EU.

"This isn't an easy topic," an Energy Ministry spokesman said, noting that TotalEnergies has signed long-term contracts that force it to buy LNG from Russia, even if the gas isn't imported.

French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire is defending the purchases, commenting last month that the reductions must be done gradually to avoid a "brutal" hit on the market and price spikes.

Meanwhile, some countries in the EU have continued to buy some oil, gas, and nuclear fuel from Russia. The bloc has been able to cut its dependence on gas from Russia by two-thirds while imposing a ban on coal and oil imports coming by sea.

When it comes to LNG, however, billions of dollars are still coming into Moscow from EU countries, which paid more than $8.5 billion, according to a CREA report this week.

A French Economy Ministry spokesperson told Politico that the increased imports are because of strikes that disrupted the normal supply flow last year, and said that a large amount of LNG goes through France to supply other EU countries such as Italy.

At least nine other EU countries are continuing to buy LNG from Russia, according to shipping data, but Paris led the bloc in absolute volumes imported this year, compared to the same period last year.

Belgium, Spain, and the Netherlands, the largest buyers after France, all said they will support steps to reduce the purchases but that the EU countries must act together.

Sandy Fitzgerald

Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics. 

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


GlobalTalk
French President Emmanuel Macron has positioned himself as being one of the strongest defenders of Ukraine but already this year, more deliveries of Russian liquefied natural gas have gone to France than to any other country in the European Union compared to last year.
emmanuel macron, russia, lng, ukraine, france, eu
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2024-09-13
Saturday, 13 April 2024 11:09 AM
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