Successful Transportation of LNG Modules to Russia Continues Despite EU Sanctions


Audax transporting Novatek’s LNG modules across the Arctic. (Source: Red Box Energy Services)

The Arctic LNG 2 project is receiving all necessary prefabricated modules from China, as it was before the sanctions. In addition, a Dutch shipping company also takes part in their delivery.

A year and a half passed since the EU adopted the fifth round of sanctions against Russia. They included the “supply, transfer, or export, directly or indirectly, goods and technologies suited for use in the [...] liquefaction of natural gas.” As it turned out, their impact on the implementation of the Arctic LNG 2 project was exaggerated.

According to expectations, the companies were supposed to stop shipping vital prefabricated modules from China, but the reality is different.

Dutch Red Box Group, owner of the two module carriers Audax and Pugnax, has made several shipments during 2022 and 2023. The vessels delivered cargo along the Northern Sea Route.

European companies are on board

Red Box Energy Services, owner of two heavy load carriers, is headquartered in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

The Red Box Energy Services’ website explicitly mentions the company is headquartered in Rotterdam… as such, the company is legally European and thus could be easily targeted by EU sanctions, said Frédéric Lasserre, professor of political geography and geoeconomics at Laval University.

So far, neither the company nor the Dutch government has responded to inquiries about how the European company may continue to ship prefabricated modules from China to Russia.

Loopholes in the West's sanctions regime

Dutch Red Box Group interprets the sanctions against Russia in its own way. After all, the adopted sanctions package does not explicitly refer to the "transport" of LNG technology.

 “The sanctions [could] merely apply to the producer/reseller of the technology and do not target the transportation service. It could appear that this is Red Box’s interpretation,” Lasserre said. 

“One reason for that could be that the EU never wanted to halt Russian gas production. We should recall after all that it was Moscow, not the EU, that turned the taps off for pipeline gas from Russia to the EU, triggering a frenzy of LNG purchases notably from Russia, even more so from Norway, Qatar and the US. Talks of enacting a Russian LNG import ban in Spring 2023 never materialized,” Lasserre added.



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