Gas consumption increased last year by approximately 4% compared with 2014, according to the latest estimates from Eurogas. This rise, the first in four years, was mirrored by an increase in liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports highlighting further diversification of supply.
Initial estimates for 2015, published by Eurogas last march, suggest that gas consumption in the EU-28 was 4 603.6 terawatt-hours gross calorific value (TWh GCV), equivalent to 426.3 billion cubic metres (bcm) or 356.3 million tonnes of oil equivalent net calorific value (mtoe NCV).
One contributory factor has been the weather. Temperatures in 2015 were closer to the average than in 2014. Residential demand for gas in heating saw net increases in a number of countries. Heating capacity was reinforced in Germany, for example, where half of new-build residential construction was fitted with gas heating appliances. The capacity of the gas grids to handle the fluctuations in demand for heating, and in some countries cooling, once again highlights the flexibility of gas as a fuel.
This overall return to more normal average temperatures accounted in large part for the increase in gas demand across the EU. However, at the national level, the effect varied from country to country, as well as season to season. Several other factors, aside from the weather conditions, were also at play in 2015.
Countries such as the Czech Republic, France and Slovakia, for example, witnessed some economic recovery last year, which is reflected in an increase in industrial gas demand in these EU member states, while other countries continue to see decreases in this sector.
Changes in demand in the power sector also varied with some countries seeing gas gaining market share due to its decrease in price (e.g. United Kingdom) and demand for cooling (e.g. Italy, Greece), while others experienced a decline in gas demand due to various factors such as tax regimes discouraging gas consumption (e.g. Finland).
Still others saw continued, though slight, share loss due to the continued favour won by coal (e.g. Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands). LNG made up the largest share of gains in imports for some countries. In the Netherlands, for example, LNG imports roughly doubled, and Italian LNG imports increased by some 34% year-on-year.
Development in the compressed natural gas (CNG) market took noticeable advance in the Czech market where CNG consumption increased by 46% year-on-year.