Maintenance work at the Sakhalin-2 project has been completed  © Sputnik/Maksim Blinov

The Sakhalin-2 liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Russia’s Far East has returned to full-scale operations after the completion of planned maintenance work, Gazprom Deputy CEO Vitaly Markelov told the Interfax news agency on Tuesday.

Maintenance began in July and involved all the site’s production facilities, according to Markelov. The Sakhalin-2 LNG plant launched production in 2009 and currently has a capacity of 11.5 million tons of LNG annually.

Energy majors including Britain’s Shell opted to leave the project after the West sanctioned Russia over its military operation in Ukraine, although Japan’s Mitsui and Mitsubishi retained their 22.5% combined stake. Other long-term Asian LNG buyers from Sakhalin-2, including South Korea, have continued to import gas from the venture.

Last year, Japan accounted for 60.6% of all LNG shipments from the Russian plant. South Korea imported 15.8%, China 17.9%, and Taiwan 4.5%, while Indonesia accounted for 1.2% of imports as Russia supplied the country with LNG for the first time.

Russian LNG exports have been steadily growing since the beginning of the year, with demand on the rise in Europe and Asia, according to Russian Energy Minister Nikolay Shulginov.

While the EU has banned seaborne exports of Russian oil, LNG is not prohibited by the sanctions.

The latest report by NGO Global Witness showed that EU purchases of Russian LNG surged by 40% between January and July compared to the same period in 2021, and by 1.7% compared to last year.

The report indicated that the EU is set to import record volumes of Russian LNG this year, despite the bloc aiming to decouple itself from the country’s fossil fuels industry.

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