(Bloomberg) -- The European Union reached a tentative deal on a gas regulation enabling countries to effectively ban Russian shipments of liquefied natural gas without new energy sanctions. 

The European Parliament and the EU Council, representing member states, endorsed on Friday part of a package that sets common rules for natural gas, renewable gases and hydrogen, preparing the bloc to move away from fossil fuels. The measure would allow member governments to temporarily prevent Russian and Belarusian exporters from booking the infrastructure capacity needed for the shipments of LNG and natural gas.

“The regulation will contain provisions allowing member states to adopt restrictions to the supply of natural gas, including liquefied natural gas (LNG), from Russia or Belarus, with the aim of protecting the essential security interests of the member states or of the EU, while taking account of security of supply and diversification objectives,“ the EU Council said in a statement after the talks.

Although there are no EU-wide sanctions on Russian gas, the move is part of the region’s push to shift supplies after President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. While pipeline flows of natural gas have dropped to record lows, LNG shipments from Moscow have surged. EU Energy Commission Kadri Simson earlier this year called for Russian LNG shipments to be stopped, saying companies shouldn’t renew long-term contracts once current ones end.

Some nations in Europe have already stopped buying Russian LNG, such as the UK, Poland and the Baltic states.

“For years, energy has been Russia’s weapon against the economy and solidarity of the EU and its partners,” said EU lawmaker Jerzy Buzek, the Parliament’s lead negotiator. “We are also introducing a legal possibility for EU countries to stop importing any gas from Russia. It’s the most far-reaching legislation of its kind in history.”

The regulation still needs formal approval from the European Parliament and member states in the Council to become law. 


--With assistance from Elena Mazneva.

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