UK Dependence on Imported Hydrocarbons: How Important is Russia?
The arrival of the first Russian LNG supplies to the UK coincided with the deterioration of UK-Russia diplomatic relations, triggering debates over the role of Russia in UK hydrocarbon imports. Although Russia is the largest supplier of UK coal imports, coal is being phased out of UK energy consumption. Russia is just one of several substantial suppliers of crude oil and refined oil products to the UK, with levels of UK oil demand being strongly linked to developments in the UK transportation fuel mix. By contrast, natural gas is the largest source of UK heat and power generation, and underpins non-transportation sector energy consumption. UK gas import demand is currently largely met by pipeline imports from Norway and LNG imports from Qatar. However, as the UK seeks to cope with fluctuations in domestic gas demand through increased LNG imports and gas trade with north-western Europe, following the closure of the UK’s only seasonal gas storage facility, the challenge to UK energy security is not dependence on Russian gas supplies but rather increasing exposure to international gas market volatility.