Russian LNG Tankers Diverted From UK Find Home In France, Belgium

Russian LNG Tankers Diverted From UK Find Home In France, Belgium
As the attack on Ukraine continues, workforces around the world are doing their bit to boycott Russia.

Workers at the National Grid’s Isle of Grain LNG terminal have shown their support to Ukraine by refusing to unload LNG tankers carrying the chilled gas from the Yamal facility in the Russian Arctic - but other willing recipients of the chilled fuel have been found.

Since Russia’s attack on Ukraine started on February 24, European energy majors have all sought to exit their positions in Russia, and now the workforce is refusing to handle vessels exporting Russian energy products.

Energy workers employed by the National Grid at its Isle of Grain terminal on the Medway Estuary, the UK’s leading terminal for the import of liquefied natural gas, recently refused to unload two LNG tankers arriving from Sabetta, Russia.

Peter Read, a worker at the Isle of Grain LNG terminal, and a branch chair of UNISON, UK’s largest union, noted he was contacted by several the union members who had seen the schedules for ships due to arrive in the following days, having spotted that two were listed as carrying Russian gas.

“Some of them were quite passionate about it and stated that there was no way they were they were going to be doing anything to unload the ship”, Read said.

The vessels in question were two Arctic LNG carriers that usually transport Yamal LNG to Europe either for unloading at European terminals or transshipment for further transport to other destinations, Fedor Litke and Boris Vilkitsky.

These protests have given results since both vessels ended up being diverted from the Isle of Grain terminal. However, both vessels found other destinations in Europe, which is not something Helene Bourges, head of fossil fuel campaign for Greenpeace France, was happy with.

Onboard an inflatable, the group's activists displayed a banner reading ‘Fossil Fuels War’ in front of the Boris Vilkitsky preparing to unload TotalEnergies’ gas in the port of Montoir-de-Bretagne on the west coast of France.

Before that, that the Fedor Litke LNG tanker unloaded its cargo at Zeebrugge, where Yamal LNG has a dedicated storage tank to use for its transshipment operations under a 20-year deal. The vessel, according to the shipping data, is already on its way back to the Yamal LNG facility.

TotalEnergies condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, however, the French energy major is yet to make any significant moves regarding its activities in Russia. Unlike Exxon, Chevron, Shell, or BP, the company has not yet publicly stated it will leave Russia.

The company owns a 20 percent stake in the Yamal LNG project led by Russia’s largest independent natural gas producer and LNG exporter Novatek. Greenpeace stressed that the main shareholder is Gennady Timchenko, an oligarch sanctioned by the EU over the invasion of Ukraine.

Novatek issued a statement saying that it has always adhered to the highest social and humanitarian responsibility standards, both in Russia and abroad.

“We continue to responsibly perform all our Russian and international contractual obligations concerning the supply of energy to our many valued customers as well as implementing joint projects under our partnerships. These commitments are important elements to ensure and maintain global energy security sustainably and responsibly,” the company informed in its statement, meaning the deliveries from the Yamal LNG facility will continue.

Yamal LNG has a nameplate capacity of 17.4 mtpa of from three 5.5 mtpa trains and one 900,000 tons per annum train. Vladimir Putin gave the formal command to start loading LNG from the facility on December 8, 2017. In 2021, Yamal LNG received the approval of a technical expert review that Trains 1-3 can effectively operate at 120 percent of nameplate capacity at below-zero temperatures. This meant that the plant produced 19.64 mmt of LNG in 2021.

The opposition to Russian energy exports is growing as activists and workforces around Europe are protesting the unloading of vessels carrying Russian cargoes.

Before the two LNG tankers were diverted from the Isle of Grain, dockers in France and the Netherlands refused to unload gas tankers coming from Russia. Also, 20 activists from Greenpeace Germany on board six inflatables painted ‘No Coal’ and ‘No War’ on the side of a ship loaded with 100,000 tons of Russian hard coal as it approached the port of Hamburg.

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