MOSCOW, Nov 8 (Reuters) – A gas tanker once hailed by President Vladimir Putin as a bulwark of Russian energy security is heading for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in the United States, ship tracking data from Refinitiv’s Eikon showed on Friday.
The collection of an LNG cargo from the United States by a Russian tanker would be potentially awkward for Putin and Kremlin-controlled gas company Gazprom, which leased out the vessel to Austrian company OMV in August.
Putin has accused the United States of trying to undercut Russian gas supplies with its LNG exports which he has said are over-priced and uncompetitive.
Gazprom declined to comment on the vessel’s movements. OMV did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It was unclear where the Russian tanker would go after collecting a LNG cargo in the United States.
U.S. seaborne LNG is seen as a threat to Gazprom’s dominant position in the gas market in Europe where it accounts for more than 35% of supplies and comes at a time when its deliveries of pipeline gas to the region are expected to fall this year from a record-high of more than 200 billion cubic metres in 2018.
According to the Refinitiv Eikon data, the Marshal Vasilevskiy floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) – which can also act as an LNG vessel – departed from the port of Rotterdam on Nov. 4.
It is due to arrive at the Sabine Pass LNG terminal on Nov. 26 and loading is scheduled for Nov. 29, the data showed.
The terminal in Louisiana is part of President Donald Trump’s pursuit of an “energy dominance” policy that seeks to maximize U.S. oil, gas and coal production.
Dozens of LNG export terminals are planned in the United States with a total capacity exceeding 300 million tonnes per year. That is equal to the world’s entire consumption of LNG last year.
The Marshal Vasilevskiy was moored near the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad before it was leased out to OMV.
It was originally anchored near Kaliningrad to offset potential disruptions to gas pipeline flows via Belarus to the area, which is sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania and cut off from the rest of Russia. (Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Natalia Chumakova; Editing by Andrew Osborn and Christian Schmollinger)