Russia's Gazprom ships first LNG cargo this year from Portovaya to Asia around Africa

(Reuters) - Russia's Gazprom is shipping its first cargo of LNG to Asia this year from its Portovaya plant on the Baltic Sea, travelling around the southern tip of Africa in order to avoid the Red Sea, according to LSEG data.

The LNG tanker Pskov was loaded at Portovaya on April 8 and is currently at sea off the Congo Republic in west Africa. Its destination is not known.

Last year Gazprom sent three LNG cargoes from Portovaya to Asia, all to China, of which two went via the Suez Canal and one via the Northern Sea Route through the Arctic.

Global fuel producers, including Russia, have been forced to change the way they deliver to Asia and go around Africa to avoid attacks by Iranian-backed Houthi fighters in Yemen, even though the Suez Canal is the shortest route between Europe and Asia.

Before the escalation of the situation in the Red Sea, the canal was Russia's preferred route to export LNG to Asia during the winter months when the Northern Sea Route was closed.

Since January, Russian gas from Novatek's Yamal LNG plant has also been diverted to Asia around Africa to avoid the Red Sea.

Since the start of the Ukraine conflict, state-controlled Gazprom has largely lost its European export market for pipeline gas, once a main source of foreign currency revenues for Moscow.

The Portovaya LNG plant, with a capacity of 1.5 million metric tons per year, was launched in September 2022. Last year most LNG cargoes from the plant were sent to Turkey or Greece.

This year Gazprom sent LNG to Spain for the first time.


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