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    German Exports Topped 30bn m³ in 2015



Western Europe’s largest energy market became a much bigger gas hub and transit country last year. Did anyone mention Ukraine?

by: Mark Smedley

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Natural Gas & LNG News, Security of Supply, Energy Union, Carbon, Corporate, Import/Export, Balkans/SEE Focus, News By Country, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Ukraine

German Exports Topped 30bn m³ in 2015

Germany consumed 5% more gas and its imports were 13% higher than in 2014. But the surprising statistic is that its 2015 exports of gas grew by 35% year-on-year to top 30bn m3. Western Europe’s largest energy market thus also became a much bigger gas hub and transit country last year. And implicit in that is its role as a source of gas for Ukraine.

Overall primary energy consumption in Germany increased by 1.1% last year to 13,306 petajoules (PJ), according to AG Energiebilanzen (AGEB), a think-tank of academic institutes and energy industry groups.

Gas consumption increased by 5% to 80.5bn m3 – equivalent to 2812 PJ or 866 terawatt-hours of gas -- bolstered by demand for home heating. That’s because, although 2015 was relatively warm, the year before was slightly warmer, reported AGEB on March 18. This meant that gas’s share of Germany’s total energy increased to 21.1% last year, from 20.4% in 2014.

Other fossil fuel and nuclear power consumption declined, but renewables gained ground.

Oil declined by only 0.1% to 4,511 PJ, while also coal and lignite declined slightly by 0.7% and 0.3% to to 1,691 and 1.567 PJ respectively, but nuclear power production plunged by 5.5%. Renewable energy consumption grew strongly, by 9.9% to 1,669 PJ. Despite that increase, AGEB estimated that German CO2 emissions overall may have increased very slightly last year.

Breaking down last year’s 5% gas consumption rise, AGEB said that private households used 7% more -- although only 50% of newbuilt homes in 2015 have gas for space heating – while industry consumed 2% more gas year-on-year. Power plants however burned 2% less than they did in 2014.

German gas supply grew by 11% to 110.1bn m3 (1,184 TWh-gas) in 2015 said AGEB, of which 7% was inland production (down 15% to 7.8bn m3) while 93% was imported - an increase of 13% to 102.3bn m3.

Russia’s share of German gas supply increased to 40% to 44bn m3, from a 38% share in 2014.  Norway’s share declined slightly to 21% (2014: 22%) although its absolute delivery volume was up 1%. Dutch gas’ share of German supply increased two percentage points to 29%. The UK/Danish share was 3%, leaving inland production's share 7%.

Germany (re-)exports 30.3bn m³

Perhaps the really interesting figure is for exports of gas from Germany, which increased by 35% last year to 30.3bn m3. It's unclear precisely how much of this figure is transit gas, and how much bought and then resold. Moreover AGEB and its gas industry member BDEW drew a discreet veil over where this gas went. Some was traded into other western European countries. But undoubtedly some of the gas entering Germany then flowed east, including to Ukraine.

Russian giant Gazprom has long argued that some of the gas it delivers to EU markets then gets re-exported to Ukraine. These statistics – showing rising Russian imports, and rising (re-)exports from Germany – might appear to validate its argument. But it’s unlikely to affect the EU and German legal  position, which is that once gas is sold into the EU market, the buyer can do with it what it wants.

EU gas use slipping in early 2016

French bank Societe Generale has said that gas consumption in nine countries that make up two-thirds of the EU gas market declined by 3% year on year in the first two months of 2016. For February by itself, a mild month, the decline was 4.9%. The nine include Britain and Italy, but not Germany.


Mark Smedley