Russian LNG finally unloaded in Boston; supplier faces sanctions

The much-publicized vessel containing Russian liquefied natural gas has finally arrived and unloaded its cargo in Boston.

The tanker Gaselys unloaded its LNG cargo at the Distrigas terminal in Everett, Mass.(four miles north of Boston), Sunday and Monday, including fuel from a plant in Siberia owned by a Russian company under U.S. sanctions, The Boston Globe newspaper reported.

The $27 billion Yamal liquefied natural gas plant opened in December, and some of its first output was in the cargo that will be used to heat homes and generate electricity in the Boston area.

The majority owner of the Yamal plant is Russian company Novatek, whose shareholders include an ally of President Vladimir Putin, Gennady Timchenko, Kallanish Energy finds.

The U.S. Treasury initially imposed sanctions that prohibited American companies from providing new financing to Novatek and another Russian energy firm in 2014, in response to what the agency had described as Russia’s destabilization of eastern Ukraine and its annexation of Crimea.

Treasury officials did not respond to requests for comment about the arrival Monday of the tanker, the Globe reported.

Since these particular sanctions involve just the money Novatek could access, energy industry experts said they do not prevent Western companies from buying LNG produced at its Yamal plant.

“The company that developed the project was sanctioned, but the gas itself was not sanctioned,” James Henderson, director of natural gas research at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies in the UK, told the Globe.

It’s unclear how much of the LNG carried by the Gaselys came from Russia because it was mixed with liquefied gas from other countries while stored temporarily at the Isle of Grain terminal in the UK.

The owner of the Distrigas facility, the French company ENGIE, bought the fuel on global spot markets when the extreme cold spell earlier this winter sapped inventories and drove up prices of natural gas coming in by pipeline.

“We needed an extra cargo to make up for some of the gas we sold because of the very cold weather,” ENGIE spokeswoman Carol Churchill told the Globe.

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