Correction, 22nd September 2023: The below press release has been amended following changes made in September by Kpler to its LNG trade data. Volumes of Russian LNG traded by Shell, the rank of Shell as a Russian LNG trader, the rank of Russia as a source of LNG Shell traded, and the destinations of Russian LNG traded by Shell have changed. 

All calculations have been made by Global Witness based on data provided by Kpler, downloaded in September 2023. According to Kpler, its data draws from multiple sources, including seaborne commodity flows, and can employ an algorithm to assign probabilities that specific companies are related to specific shipments. This data is subject to change when more accurate information becomes available. 

Asked by Global Witness to verify our calculations, Kpler declined to comment. 

2nd July 2023, London – The energy giant Shell has continued to trade vast amounts of Russian liquified gas (LNG) around the world since Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, likely making hundreds of millions of dollars in the process, Global Witness today reveals.  

Analysis of every single LNG shipment that left Russia between March and December 2022 shows Shell traded 7% of Russia’s exports. This made Shell critical to a trade that brought Putin $21 billion in 2022.  

Shell itself made $5.4 billion from LNG trading in 2022, according to analyst firm Bernstein. Global Witness’ analysis shows that 5% of Shell’s LNG trade originated in Russia. This means it would be likely that Shell profited in the hundreds of millions from Russian LNG.  

The findings have sparked a response from Oleg Ustenko, the Chief Economic Adviser to Ukraine’s President who called on Shell to stop any involvement of trading in Russian LNG immediately and iterated that any profits from such involvement amounted to ‘blood money’.  

Ustenko said:  

“It is quite simple: by continuing to trade in Russian gas Shell is putting money into Putin’s pockets and helping to fund Russia’s brutal aggression against the people of Ukraine. Trading gas is no different to trading Russian oil, every drop of which means more bloodshed. The vast sums that Shell and the whole oil industry have made in Russia should be used to help fund the reconstruction of Ukraine, rather than lining the pockets of their shareholders.”  

Global Witness’ analysis also shows that Shell was ranked eighth amongst companies that traded Russian LNG last year, as well as Russia featuring in the top six countries from which Shell sourced the LNG it traded. Thus far the trading of Russian LNG has remained legal, and justified by Shell itself, under a pretext of ensuring Europe’s energy security.  

However, the analysis further reveals that none of Shell’s Russian LNG trading has benefitted Europe. All of the Russian LNG traded by Shell was exported to Asia.  

Calculations of Shell’s LNG trading were conducted by Global Witness, using records provided by the commodities trade data firm Kpler.   

Jonathan Noronha-Gant, Senior Campaigner at Global Witness, said:  

“The fact that none of the LNG traded by Shell ended up in Europe absolutely destroys the false argument that trading Russian LNG is necessary to keep Europe energy secure. Fossil fuel giants like Shell have been keen to distance themselves from Russia, within the rightful moral backlash the war created, but when it comes to LNG its business as usual.”  

“There can be no justification for the continued trading of Russian LNG, given it represents billions to Putin’s war chest. It’s long overdue that the trading of Russian LNG is looked at with the same disgust as Russian oil trading. Targeting Putin’s energy income cannot be about symbolic measures but must concretely put a stop to the huge fossil fuel sums that cement his power.”  

“Countries like the UK, where Shell are based, must act by cutting off the demand for Russian LNG and getting those companies in line that continue to profit whilst the people of Ukraine suffer an immeasurable toll.”  

Following these findings, Global Witness is calling on the UK and EU member states to ban imports and the trade of Russian LNG by companies based in their jurisdictions. Meanwhile, all profits and dividends received by these companies since the start of the war from Russian operations should be subject to a 100 percent tax.

In March 2022, Shell said it would eventually stop trading all Russian hydrocarbons, but that stopping gas would take time because of European energy security concerns. In a statement on its website, last updated April 2023, the company said that it had "stopped spot purchases of Russian LNG but still has some long-term contractual commitments."   

Shell declined to respond to Global Witness’ findings.