Despite a vow to stop trading Russian gas, Shell continues to do so.
According to Global Witness analysis, the business was involved in approximately one-eighth of Russia’s shipborne gas exports in 2022.
Shell was accused of accepting “blood money” by Oleg Ustenko, an aide to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky.
The deals, according to Shell, are the outcome of “long-term contractual commitments” and do not breach any laws or restrictions.
As recently as May 9, a massive tanker capable of transporting more than 160,000 cubic meters of gas compressed into liquid form – liquefied natural gas, or LNG – departed Sabetta, on Russia’s far north’s Yamal peninsula.
Shell purchased that shipment before continuing on to its final destination, Hong Kong.
According to statistics from the Kpler database analyzed by Global Witness, it is one of eight LNG cargoes purchased by Shell from Yamal this year.
According to Global Witness, Shell accounted for 12% of Russia’s seaborne LNG trade last year, and was one of the top five traders of Russian-originated LNG that year.
In the weeks following the invasion of Ukraine in March 2022, Shell apologized for purchasing a shipment of Russian oil and announced its intention to exit the Russian oil and gas market.
It announced a “phased withdrawal from Russian petroleum products, pipeline gas, and LNG” and stated it will stop importing Russian oil, sell its service stations and other assets in Russia. It did, however, warn that it would be a “complex challenge.”
Since then, it has continued to accept LNG cargoes from two Russian ports, Yamal and Sakhalin in the far east.
Shell was a minority stakeholder in the Sakhalin gas plant until September of last year, when the Russian government transferred its shares to a local company – and has since taken no gas from Sakhalin.
However, it continues to honor its contract with the Russian LNG business Novatek, which requires it to purchase 900,000 tonnes of Yamal LNG every year until the 2030s, according to the Reuters news agency.
Novatek is Russia’s second largest gas business, and its taxes contribute significantly to the Russian government’s budget.
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“It is quite simple: by continuing to trade in Russian gas, Shell is putting money into Putin’s pockets and helping to fund Russia’s brutal aggression against the people of Ukraine,” said Oleg Ustenko, a Ukrainian president’s adviser.
“Rather than lining the pockets of their shareholders, the vast sums made by Shell and the entire oil industry in Russia should be used to help fund the reconstruction of Ukraine.”
“Shell has stopped buying Russian LNG on the spot market, but still has some long-term contractual commitments,” a Shell spokeswoman said. This is in complete accordance with the penalties, rules, and regulations of the countries in which we operate.
“There is a conflict between putting pressure on Russia over its atrocities in Ukraine and ensuring stable, secure energy supplies.” It is up to governments to make the extremely tough trade-offs that must be made.”
Shell is the world’s largest trader of LNG, which is not subject to European sanctions, and made billions of dollars in profits last year from trading oil and gas.
Russia drastically decreased pipeline gas supply last year, but increased ship-to-ship gas deliveries, especially to Europe.
The UK has not imported Russian gas in over a year, while EU leaders are attempting to decrease the amount of Russian LNG imported by the bloc. Kadri Simson, the EU’s Energy Commissioner, urged on governments and businesses to cease importing Russian gas and not sign new contracts in March.
“It is long past time that Russian LNG trading is treated with the same contempt as Russian oil trading.” “Targeting Putin’s energy income must go beyond symbolic measures and must put a stop to the massive fossil fuel sums that cement his power,” said Jonathan Noronha-Gant, senior campaigner at Global Witness.
TotalEnergies, based in France, is a minority shareholder in the Yamal project and a key trader in Russian LNG, according to the Global Witness investigation.
TotalEnergies has been contacted by the BBC for comment.