Trends in fossil gas consumption & imports – December 2023

Fossil gas consumption in 2023 was 50.91 TWh, down 10.1% compared to 2022 and 27.2% compared to 2021, the year the energy crisis started. Industry sector increased its gas use by 84.7% compared to 2022, while the other two uses, namely electricity and distribution networks, recorded a decrease of 17.1% and 8.1% respectively. Total gas imports were 53.94 TWh, down 13% compared to 2022 and 23.3% compared to 2021. Russian gas accounted for at least 41% of total gas imports into the country, coming from the Turkstream pipeline (14.71 TWh), and LNG from Agia Triada gate (7.34 TWh as of November).

Greece dropped to 10th place among the EU-27 Member States in terms of gas consumption decrease in the first 11 months of 2023 (-10.5%) compared to the same period in 2022, just 3 places higher than the EU-27 average (-8%).

The month of December

According to the latest available data from DESFA, in December 2023, total domestic gas consumption was 4.87 TWh, down 5.1% (-0.26 TWh) compared to December 2022. It was the second lowest consumption in the six-year period 2018-2023 for the month of December, after December 2019 when monthly gas consumption was 4.76 TWh. The decrease came exclusively from electricity (-0.88 TWh), as the other two uses saw an increase. In the industry sector the increase was higher (+0.38 TWh) than in distribution networks (+0.24 TWh) and in fact the use of gas in industry in December 2023 was three times higher than in the same month in 2022.

Cumulative performance in the twelve months of 2023

Total gas consumption for 2023 was 50.91 TWh, the second lowest consumption in the last six years (2018-2023), only 0.49 TWh higher than the lowest of the six-year period in 2018 (50.43 TWh). In addition, the 2023 consumption was 5.73 TWh lower than in 2022 (-10.1%) and 19.05 TWh lower (-27.2%) than in 2021, the year the energy crisis started, when the highest gas consumption in the country was recorded in the last six years (69.96 TWh). It is noted that the percentage reduction in total gas consumption achieved in the two-year period between 2021 and 2023 (-27.2%) is slightly higher than the reduction projected by the NECP for the seven-year period between 2023 and 2030 (-27%).

Compared to the five-year average for 2018-2022, gas consumption decreased by 8.2 TWh (or -13.6%), with the decrease coming from all three gas uses. The largest percentage decrease occurred in industry (-27.8% or -2.38 TWh), followed by electricity (-14.2% or -5.73 TWh) and then distribution networks (-4.1% or -0.48 TWh). This picture changes when comparing 2023 with the previous year, as industry saw a very large percentage increase of 84.7% (+2.38 TWh), while consumption decreased in both electricity (-17.1% or -7.12 TWh) and distribution networks (-8.1% or -0.98 TWh).

Consumption in 2023

In December 2023 (4.87 TWh), consumption increased after 4 consecutive months of month-to-month decreasing consumption but decreased compared to December 2022. It was the second smallest decrease for 2023 (-5.1%), when compared to the percentage changes in the remaining months of 2023, as compared to 2022. The smallest decrease of the year occurred for the month of November. Of course, there is progress compared to the months of September and October when there was an increase in gas use compared to the corresponding months in 2022 (+26.8% and +60.9% respectively).

Regarding the distribution of gas consumption in end-uses, in 2023, the 7.12 TWh decrease in gas use in electricity generation also reduced its share in end-uses to 67.8% (from 73.6% in 2022). In contrast, industry saw a significant increase, both in absolute terms (+2.38 TWh) and in its share of total end-uses. In particular, for 2023, gas use in industry accounted for 10.2% of total gas use, five percentage points higher than in 2022 (5%). There was a slight increase in the share of use in distribution networks in 2023 (22%), compared to the same period in 2022 (21.5%), although in absolute terms there was a significant decrease (-0.98 TWh).

The voluntary European target of -15%

In March 2023, the European Union decided that member states should voluntarily continue their efforts to reduce gas consumption by 15% for the period April 2023-March 2024, compared to the reference period from 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2022. Therefore, considering Greece’s performance so far, it appears that for the nine-month period April-November 2023, the country failed to reach the European reduction target. Specifically, total consumption for the nine months was 38.5 TWh, by 1.64 TWh increased compared to the target (36.9 TWh). Consumption corresponds to a reduction of 11.2% compared to the 5-year average (2017-2021) almost 4 percentage points below the 15% target.

Imports in 2023

In terms of fossil gas flows from the country’s four gateways, in November 2023, gas imports from Russia via the Turkstream pipeline through the Sidirokastro gate (2.01 TWh) increased again compared to the previous month (0.73 TWh); however, compared to the shares of the three previous months (50.2% in September and 64.5% in October, 41.8% in November), the share of Turkstream imports (41.2%) in total monthly imports was at a lower level. Moreover, in December 2023, Russian gas imports via the pipeline far exceeded those of December 2022 (+1.28 TWh). In contrast to the Sidirokastro gate, at the Agia Triada and Nea Mesimvria gates, gas flows showed a decrease compared to December 2022. Specifically, the Agia Triada gate recorded a 47.2% decrease, while its share in total imports was 42.6%, marginally maintaining its first place for the month of December 2023. A much smaller monthly decrease in imports was recorded in gas from TAP via Nea Mesimvria(-4.2%), which contributed 0.57 TWh, accounting for a share of 11.6% in the country’s total imports. Much lower was the share covered by flows from Turkey via the Kipoi gateway (4.5% or 0.22 TWh), up 1.2% compared to December 2022.

Cumulatively for 2023, total imports from the country’s four gateways were 53.94 TWh, down 13% compared to 2022 and 23.3% compared to 2021. In 2023, LNG imports through Agia Triada ranked first among the supply sources with 29.49 TWh (and a 54.7% share), but the imported volume decreased by 22.5% compared to the same period in 2022. It should be noted that a significant amount of LNG came from Russia. According to Eurostat data, by October 2023 Greece imported a total of 7.34 TWh of Russian LNG, while in November imports were zero, after 7 consecutive months in which the country imported LNG from Russia. In the corresponding 11-month period in 2022, imports of Russian LNG were just 1.03 TWh.

There was also a large increase in Russian gas imports from pipelines (Sidirokastro gate) in 2023 compared to 2022 (+66.3%), while between 2021 and 2022 Greece had managed to reduce its Russian gas imports by almost the same percentage (-68.34%). It was in second place with 14.71 TWh and a share of 27.3% in total imports. Adding up Russian gas imports, through the Turkstream pipeline, and in the form of LNG at the Agia Triada gateway, Russian gas was responsible for at least 22.05 TWh or 41% of the country’s total imports in 2023.

Azeri gas imports from the TAP pipeline came in third place with a 13.8% share (7.44 TWh), down 41% compared to the same period in 2022. Finally, the lowest contribution was from the gas imported from Turkey via the Kipoi gateway, with only 2.3 TWh and a share of 4.3% in 2023, down 5.1% compared to 2022.

Comparison with the European Union

Based on the latest available Eurostat data on monthly gas consumption in the EU-27 Member States (November 2023), Greece managed to reduce its consumption by 10.5% in the 11th month of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022, ranking 10th among the EU-27 countries, 3 places higher than the EU-27 average (-8%). However, it seems that Greece’s relative position in the EU-27 ranking has deteriorated over the months, as it occupies ever lower position. Thus, while in the first quarter of 2023 it was in 1st place in terms of consumption decrease among the EU-27 Member States, in the half of the year it fell to 5th place, and in the 11-month period to 10th place. In 1st place was Portugal, and in 2nd place Slovakia, which achieved a decrease in total gas consumption of 22.4% and 19.9% respectively in the first 11 months of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022. It is also noteworthy that in the 11 months of 2023 4 countries (Finland, Malta, Poland and Croatia) increased their gas use compared to the same period in 2022.

In terms of the five-year average, the reduction achieved by Greece was smaller than in the EU-27. More specifically, with -14.5% Greece ranked 19th, 4 places lower than the EU-27 average (-16.1%) which ranked 15th. The country with the largest decrease was Latvia (-34.4%), followed by Sweden (-30.5%) and Finland (-29.8%).

You can read the analyses of the previous months since the start of the EU reduction measures in August 2022 here.