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Russian tanker back in Kaliningrad region after shipping U.S. LNG to Europe

MOSCOW, Jan 14 (Reuters) – A Russian gas tanker that is used to secure energy supplies in the west Russian enclave of Kaliningrad has arrived back in the region after being leased out to transport U.S.-produced LNG to Europe, Refinitiv Eikon data showed on Tuesday.

Two energy sources told Reuters in November that energy trader Gunvor had leased the Marshal Vasilevskiy tanker from Russian state-controlled gas company Gazprom for loading an LNG cargo in the United States.

That surprised the LNG shipping market because U.S. seaborne LNG is seen as a threat to Gazprom’s dominance of Europe’s gas market and Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the United States of undercutting his country’s gas exports.

The Refinitiv Eikon data showed that the Marshal Vasilevskiy – a floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) which can also act as an LNG vessel – was heading towards the port of Kaliningrad on Tuesday.

Since November the ship had carried an LNG cargo from the Sabine Pass terminal in the United States to the Spanish terminal of Huelva, and then went to Nigeria from where it shipped a cargo to Bilbao in Spain before heading back to Kaliningrad, according to data on Refinitiv Eikon.

Gazprom does not comment on movements of its vessels.

Gazprom supplies around 36% of the European gas market. Its deliveries of pipeline gas slipped last year from a record high of over 200 billion cubic metres shipped in 2018.

As the Marshal Vasilevskiy stood idle near Kaliningrad, Gazprom decided to lease it out last year, including to Austria’s OMV from August until November.

The vessel’s main role is to transport LNG to the Kaliningrad region, which is separated from Russia’s mainland and sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania. (Reporting by Natalia Chumakova and Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Susan Fenton)


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