Trends in Greece’s fossil gas consumption & imports – September 2022

Gas consumption in September 2022 is at a six-year low due to the large decrease in its use for electricity generation (-35% compared to 2021). However, Greece is 6.4 percentage points away from the European Commission’s target for a 15% reduction in fossil gas consumption compared to the 5-year average.

In force: European obligation to reduce fossil gas consumption during the period August 2022-March 2023 by 15% compared to the average of the same period of the previous five years or 2021, if the consumption had increased by more than 8% that year, a derogation for which Greece is eligible.

More specifically, according to the latest available data of DESFA (until September 2022):

The month of September

In September 2022, the 2nd month of the eight-month period in which the country has to reduce gas consumption in line with its European obligations, the total domestic consumption was 3.5 TWh, the lowest in the last six Septembers, 2.17 TWh lower than that of September 2021 (5.67 TWh), but also 1.18 TWh lower than the average September of the last five years (4. 68 TWh). In contrast to August, the overall decrease of 2.17 TWh in September compared to last year’s levels was primarily due to the large reduction in fossil gas use for electricity generation (-1.59 TWh) and secondarily in industry (-0.48 TWh), while the decrease in the distribution networks (grid) compared to September 2021 was smaller (-0.11 TWh).

It should be noted that the large decrease in fossil gas consumption during September 2022 in its most important final use, that of electricity generation, was accompanied by a 37% increase in renewables-based electricity production during the same month, compared to the 5-year average of Septembers (2017-2021), according to official data from the Greek IPTO (ADMIE).

Cumulative performance and the EU target of -15%

Despite the large decrease in September, cumulative consumption in the first two months (August-September) of the reduction period was 837 GWh below the -15% reduction target compared to the five-year average (8.23 TWh).

In terms of percentage changes, during the first two months (August-September) of the reduction period, Greece reduced its total fossil gas consumption by 26.2% compared to the same period in 2021, far exceeding the reduction target resulting from the derogation granted to Greece in the relevant EU agreement. In contrast to August where consumption increased compared to the five-year average, an 8.6% reduction in consumption was recorded in September compared to the five-year average. However, this reduction was 6.4 percentage points smaller than the one corresponding to the European Commission’s 15% reduction target.

Furthermore, in the first two months of the reduction period, all end uses show significant decreases compared to the same period in 2021. Industry leads the way (-76.7%), followed by electricity generation (-19.7%) and distribution networks (-14.5%). In contrast, compared to the five-year average, the trends are not uniform across all end-uses. In particular, the decrease in total consumption of 8.6% occurred as a combined result of decreases in industry and distribution networks of 74.5% and 2.1%, respectively, and an increase in electricity generation of 2.2%.

Consumption in 2022

Cumulative fossil gas consumption during the first 9 months of 2022 was 14.3% lower than in the same period in 2021. September was the month that saw the second largest decrease compared to the same month in 2021 (-38.3%) behind April’s largest drop for the year (-46%). September is so far among the seven months of 2022 and the sixth consecutive month where a decrease was observed compared to the same month in 2021 (January, April-September).

Imports in 2022

In terms of import gas flows from the country’s four entry points, in September 2022, liquified natural gas (LNG) from Agia Triada saw a 21.8% increase compared to the same month in 2021 and was by far the main source of gas for the country, with almost 3.1 TWh and a 69.2% share of the total gas flows imported by Greece. In contrast, there was an overwhelming 95.7% decrease in Russian gas imports from Sidirokastro covering domestic consumption which amounted to just 0.08 TWh, by far the lowest monthly quantity for 2022[1]. In contrast to August, imports from TAP via Nea Mesimvria increased by 6.6% reaching almost 1.09 TWh, while Turkish gas imports via Kipoi decreased by 9.6% to 0.21 TWh.

Therefore, cumulatively for the first 9 months of 2022, Russian gas imports covering domestic consumption decreased by 61.7% compared to the same period in 2021. Thus, with 8.07 TWh and a 16.8 % share among the four sources of imports, Russian gas fell to third place from the first place it held in the first nine months of 2021. In contrast, LNG imports via Agia Triada moved into first place reaching 27.9 TWh and a 57.9% share, an increase of 48.8% compared to 2021. Gas imports from Azerbaijan via TAP also showed a smaller increase of 7.6%, reaching almost 10.6 TWh (22% share), surpassing Russian gas imports for the year. Finally, there was a large decrease of 46.8% in cumulative imports of Turkish gas from the fourth, smaller source, Kipoi, which amounted to 1.64 TWh (3.4% share).

Comparison with the EU

Based on the latest available data from Eurostat on monthly gas consumption in the EU-27 Member States from January until August 2022, Greece decreased its consumption by 11.3% compared to the same period in 2021 and is still in 15th  place in the relevant ranking, one place above the EU-27 average (-9.9%). However, with respect to the 5-year average, Greece still has the 3rd  worst performance in Europe (behind Slovakia and Malta) as its consumption was up by 6.8%, mainly due to the jump in gas use in 2019-2021.

Greece is less dependent on Russian gas to cover its domestic needs during the first eight months of 2022 compared to the EU average. Each month of 2022 Greece managed to reduce the imports of Russian gas used to cover domestic consumption compared to the same month in 2021, much more than the EU average. Thus, cumulatively until August, Greece reduced Russian gas imports by 58.4% and the EU-27 by 12.9% relative to the same period in 2021.

[1] Overall the gas imports from Russia were higher, but a large share was exported, mainly to Bulgaria. As a result only 0.08 TWh of Russian fossil gas were used to cover part of Greece’s demand in September.

Read the analysis for other months here.