• 2022 August 11 10:33

    EU ban on Russian coal imports comes into force

    The EU forbade coal imports from August 10 as part of a sanctions package against Russia that was announced in April. That EU sanctions package of April was one of the first to take direct aim at Moscow's energy industry, according to Deutsche Welle (included by the Ministry of Justice in the register of media-foreign agents).

    The time between April and August was meant for European countries to look for alternatives, which meant either ramping up coal supplies from other countries, increasing domestic production if feasible, or looking for other alternatives to generate electricity.

    The EU still relies on Russian coal imports to generate electricity, with Russia accounting for 70% of the EU's thermal coal imports, according to a report by Bruegel, a Brussels-based think tank that focuses on policy and economic issues.

    Germany and Poland are particularly dependent on thermal coal imports, the Bruegel report said.

    Brian Ricketts from the European Association for Coal and Lignite (Eurocoal) told DW he expected the EU to start importing more coal than before — as it looks for alternatives to the much more significant power source it imports from Russia, gas.

    The EU has steadily ramped up coal supplies from several countries, like Colombia, Australia and the United States, data from Braemar shipping services show.

    European countries imported 7.9 million metric tons of thermal coal in June, more than doubling year-on-year, according to data from Braemar. However, it was about 2 million tons less than in April and May.

    Imports from Colombia reached 1.2 million tons in June, compared with just 287,000 tons in June last year, according to Braemar.

    Similarly, imports of thermal coal from Australia in June, about 1.1 million tons, were the highest on record. Imports from the United States also rose by nearly 28% year-on-year in June.

    The European Commission's chief spokesman Eric Mamer said last week in Brussels that he expected member states to stick to the sanctions, seeing as their leaders had unanimously agreed on them at the European Council.

    Bruegel said in the report, published in March, that replacing Russian coal was only part of the energy challenge facing the EU. The EU might need to import more coal if it stopped gas and oil supplies, the report said.

    In July, the EU announced another package of sanctions, including a partial embargo on Russian oil. The sanctions ban seaborne imports of Russian oil from December 5, 2022, and petroleum products from February 5, 2023.

    The EU said pipeline imports of Russian oil would be allowed, with oil-dependent countries like Hungary and Slovakia exempt as well.
    The EU's emergency gas plan to shore up gas supplies for the winter went into effect this week too.

    Even though the EU stepped up imports of coal to plug a potential energy shortfall, the International Energy Agency in June said Europe should also boost efficiency and renewables, including nuclear power, to cope with energy scarcity.




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