On April 7, 2022, the countries of the European Union supported the embargo on the import of Russian coal as part of a new package of sanctions against the Russian Federation over the situation in Ukraine.
The block members, however, earlier could not make a unanimous decision regarding the energy sector due to serious disagreements among the member countries, since the import ban harms Europe, which is due to a serious reliance on supplies from Russia.
The EU imported 51.4 mio t of coal and 155 billion m3 of gas in 2021. Russia’s share in the EU total coal imports was 48%, in the total gas imports – 45%. The share of the EU in Russian coal exports did not exceed 23%, but in gas exports the EU’s share is almost 4 times higher and reaches 76%.
In this regard, the embargo implies a mandatory, but a gradual phase-out of coal imports with a transition period of 120 days. Despite its dependence, Germany, the largest consumer of Russian coal in the EU, hopes to meet the deadline and find alternative suppliers.
The UK authorities also intend to completely ban the supply of Russian coal, but until the end of 2022. The share of Russian coal in the UK imports is 38%.
In addition, Japan, which earlier refused to impose a ban on the import of Russian coal, plans to gradually switch to shipments from other countries. In 2021, about 11% or 19.7 mio t of coal purchased by Japan was from Russia.
The EU has banned imports of coal of Russian origin, so the scheme with the addition of intermediary traders will not work. The only thing left is the replacement of suppliers: Russian exporters will go to the Asia-Pacific region, and their place in Europe will be taken by those who previously sold these volumes in Asia.