Russia Fossil Tracker – Updated methodology

Starting from 17 May 2022, we have implemented a new methodology to estimate pipeline gas imports from Russia to various European countries.

In the initial version of the counter, we used historical data to distribute Russian pipeline gas imports to various European countries. At the end of April, Russia decided to cut supply to Poland and Bulgaria, making the need for a more sophisticated approach even more urgent.

There is no one “correct” way to attribute gas imports by country. The European gas market allows physical flows to be disconnected from the trades taking place. Even countries that have no physical net flows from Russia, such as Spain, can and do purchase from Gazprom. However, given lack of transparency on transactions, tracking the physical flows is the best way we have of approximating where Russian gas ends up in Europe.

How does it work

We collect data from ENTSOG on flows between countries, at transmission interconnections for every single day. We then assume that on any given day, a country is a perfect ‘gas mixer’, that is, that all gas gets mixed before being consumed and/or re-exported.

This assumption means that any country’s export on a specific day is composed in equal proportion to its imports that day.

Let’s assume for instance that a country A imports 50 and 100 units of gas from country B and C respectively. This country consumes (or stores) 30 units and exports the remaining 120 units equally to country D and E.

Figure 1 | Before applying attribution algorithm

After applying our attribution algorithm, country A becomes an importer only, while countries B and C are supplying Country D and E, in proportion to their original contribution to country A.

Figure 2 | After applying attribution algorithm

Whilst this does not reflect the physical pipelines (gas still transits through country A), it traces back gas imports to their original producer.

The algorithm is applied iteratively so that distribution can occur through several layers of import/exports.

We treat seaborne LNG imports as one exporter, and remove the consumption of LNG from the totals, as we track LNG shipments separately as a part of our shipment tracking.

Since Gazprom does not sell gas to Ukraine directly, when European Union countries stop importing from Russia, there will be no Russian gas going into Ukraine. Because of this, we don’t allocate Russian gas imports to Ukraine.

We only look at net inflows and outflows into a country, without explicitly accounting for gas storage. Storage shifts consumption over time, but for importing countries, storage has to be replenished from imports, so this assumption should not affect the mix of the sources of importing countries’ consumption over a longer period of time.