(Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government expects Britain can stop importing Russian natural gas before the end of the year, sooner than expected, a person familiar with the matter said.

Russian gas supplies to the U.K. have slumped to a fraction of last year’s levels, bolstering the government’s ability to bring in a full import ban. But to ensure market flexibility over the winter months, ministers are sticking to the official position of phasing out Russian flows by the end of 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter, the person said.  

Like the rest of Europe, the U.K. is trying to eliminate reliance on Russian fossil fuels in the wake of the country’s invasion of Ukraine. On Wednesday, Russia halted gas flows to Poland and Bulgaria because the two countries refused to pay in rubles.

But unlike other European countries, such as Germany, the U.K. gets little of its gas from Russia. Less than 4% of Britain’s supplies came from Russia in 2021, and all of that was shipped on liquefied natural gas tankers.

Russian LNG cargoes to the U.K. already fell to 0.4 billion cubic meters in the first quarter of 2022, down from 1.6 billion cubic meters in the same time last year, the person said. The last LNG shipment from Russia was on March 2.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is due to reiterate the need to eliminate Russian gas when she delivers a speech Wednesday evening at Mansion House, in the heart of London’s financial district.

She will argue that the Group of Seven nations and others need to keep the pressure on Russia through tougher sanctions, including “cutting off oil and gas imports once and for all,” according to a statement from her office.

While the U.K. has set a year-end deadline to end imports of Russian coal, oil and oil products, it hasn’t set a firm end-date for gas. The Times of London said Wednesday that Truss is pushing for an end-of-year cutoff, but is meeting opposition from Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, who is in charge of energy policy. 


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