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Updates to this briefing

The UK has now banned imports of oil, petroleum products, gas and coal from Russia. In January the UK imported none of these fossil fuels from Russia. This briefing paper will therefore not be updated unless there is evidence that these imports have resumed.

The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air publishes weekly snapshots of Russian fossil fuel exports around the world. Their Russia Fossil Tracker gives the latest cummulative totals of Russian fossil fuel exports by type and country since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022

Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine highlighted the importance of Russian exports of fossil fuels to the Russian economy and for the energy security of the countries that import these fuels. The UK and EU have introduced full or partial bans on Russian coal and oil. The UK banned imports of Russian gas from the start of 2023. The EU has not agreed a ban on Russian gas, but has introduced policies aimed at moving away from dependence on it.

UK reliance on Russian fossil fuels

In 2021 imports from Russia made up 4% of gas used in the UK, 9% of oil and 27% of coal. In 2021, imports of gas, oil and coal from Russian to the UK were worth a combined £4.5 billion. This fell to £2.2 billion in 2022 and £1.3 billion in the year to January 2023.

The UK data in this briefing is from official trade statistics. It is based on the declared origin of fossil fuel imports. This does not track individual shipments from Russia or take account of any ship-to-ship transfers involving Russian Oil. The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air analysis of Russian fossil fuel exports attempts to do this. Some of their findings are included later in this section.

The UK Government committed to ending imports of oil and coal from Russia by the end of 2022 year and ending imports of gas from Russia “…as soon as possible thereafter.” It recently legislated for a ban on Russian gas which will start on 1 January 2023.

In January 2023, the eleventh full month since the full-scale invasion, according to UK trade statistics, the UK imported no coal, oil or gas from Russia. This was the tenth month in a row with no Russian gas imports. In June 2022 the UK imported no fossil fuel of any type from Russia for the first time since 2000 (when this data is available back to).

Overall energy imports from Russia in the year to January 2023 were £1.34 billion, 76% of this was oil imports, 12% coal and 12% gas.

According to Eurostat, in 2020 imports from Russia made up 39% of the gas used in the EU, 23% of oil imports and 46% of coal imports. Reliance on Russian fossil fuel imports varies considerably across Europe as shown in the charts at the end of this paper.

Russia supplied 15% of EU gas imports in the third quarter of 2022, down from 23% in the second quarter of 2022 and 40% in 2021. Russia also supplied 14% of EU oil imports in the third quarter of 2022, down from 26% in 2021.

While the UK relies on Russian energy to a lesser extent than many other European countries, it is still exposed to the disruption in energy markets due to the invasion of Ukraine. Gas and oil prices have increased sharply and are likely to remain high as many European countries look to other sources of energy.

Series of charts showing UK reliance on Russian imports. In 2021 Russian supplied 4% of gas, 9% of oil and 22% of the coal used in the UK. In 2022 the UK imported £2.2 billion of fossil fuel of Russia, down from £4.5 billion in 2021.

This briefing presents the latest monthly data on UK imports of gas, oil and coal from Russia. It also includes data for Europe, although this is less up to date. The Library has published related briefings on:

European and wider reliance on Russian fossil fuels

The International Energy Agency has published detailed information on the oil and gas markets and Russian supply on their Russian supplies to global energy markets pages. Their Reliance on Russian Fossil Fuels Data Explorer gives statistics on how much fossil fuels OECD and EU countries import from Russia. In March 2022 they also published A 10-Point Plan to Reduce the European Union’s Reliance on Russian Natural Gas and A 10-Point Plan to Cut Oil Use.

The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) tracks detailed ship movements and pipeline flows of fossil fuels from Russia in its Russian Energy Exports Tracker. On 6 September they published their third report on energy imports from Russia since the invasion. This found that in the first six months the war Russia had exported €158 billion in fossil fuels; €85 billion of which had gone to the EU. These imports were estimated to have contributed €43 billion to Russia’s federal budget. China was the largest single destination (€34.9 billion), followed by Germany, Turkey and the Netherlands. The UK was not in the top 20 largest destination by value.

The value of exports fell in April and June, but these falls were cushioned by higher prices, even with the discounted prices for Russian oil. The value and volume of exports increased slightly in July and August, mainly due to higher oil exports. The global value of imports in July and August were 18% below the February-March average. The largest overall cut in the value of imports over this period was from the Germany, followed by Poland, Italy, the US and Japan. The largest increase imports was to India followed by China, the UAE and Egypt.

The authors said that the 10 August EU coal ban had hit Russian exports as Russia had failed to find other buyers to replace EU demand. They concluded that only a small faction of the upcoming EU ban on Russian oil had been realised and other oil bans, such as those in the US, UK and Australia, needed better enforcement.

An update from CREA in early October found that the value of Russian global fossil exports fell by 14% between August and September. This drop was largely due to reduced gas exports to the UK and global crude oil exports. The EU coal ban (from 10 August) had cut these direct exports, but, according to CREA, EU member states had failed to provision which prohibits on EU-owned ships transporting Russian coal to third countries. Russia had increased coal exports to Turkey, much of which was transported by EU-owned ships.

This data from CREA is now published in weekly snapshots which include analysis of the impact of the EU’s ban on crude oil shipments and the price cap on Russian crude. Their Russia Fossil Tracker gives the latest data on imports by type and a country-by-country

The latest Oil Market Report from the International Energy Agency said that Russian oil revenues fell from a peak of £21.5 million in March 2022 to $12.8 billion in December 2022 and $13.0 billion in January 2023. These were the first monthly figures which were below the average monthly revenue in 2021.

In early March 2023 the price of Russian oil was around $20-25 a barrel lower than it was in early 2022.

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