Trends in fossil gas consumption & imports – February 2024

In the first two months of 2024, gas consumption increased by 30.1% compared to the same period in 2023. Greece fell to 23rd place in the EU-27 in terms of the voluntary reduction target (-15%) for the period April 2023-January 2024 and is 5 percentage points away from the target. The main source of gas imports is again Russia. In the nine-month period of June 2023-February 2024, Russian gas imports via pipelines and LNG exceeded by at least 30% those of the corresponding nine-month period of June 2021-February 2022 before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The month of February

According to the latest available data from DESFA, in February 2024 total domestic gas consumption (4.88 TWh) exceeded that of February 2023 by 13.2% (+0.57 TWh). However, it remained the second lowest consumption in the six-year period 2019-2024 for the same month.

The largest increase in absolute terms, compared to February last year, came from industry (+0.56 TWh or +242%). Industrial gas use was the third highest of the 2019-2024 period for the month of February, and more than three times higher than the same month last year. Gas use in electricity followed with 2.62 TWh (+0.33 TWh or +14.6%). On the contrary, gas usage on grids fell by 0.32 TWh (-17.8%), recording the lowest use in six years.

Cumulative performance in the first two months of 2024

Total gas consumption for the first two months of 2024 was 10.92 TWh, down by 0.37 TWh (-3.3%) compared to the five-year average. In contrast, a large increase of 2.52 TWh (+30.1%) was recorded compared to the first two months of 2023.

Compared to the five-year average, there was a decrease in two of the three gas uses. The largest percentage decrease occurred in electricity (-8.5% or -0.54 TWh), followed by networks (-7.8% or -0.3 TWh). In contrast, industry saw an increase (+41.1% or +0.46 TWh).

The picture changes when comparing the first two months of 2024 to 2023, as there was an increase in all three uses. The largest percentage increase was in industry (+240%, +1.12 TWh), followed by electricity (28.3% or +1.29 TWh) and finally in networks (+3.6% or +0.12 TWh).

Consumption in 2024

Gas consumption in February 2024 (4.88 TWh) fell below 6 TWh which was previous month’s peak. However, it remains the third highest consumption of the last 14 months, after January 2024 (6.04 TWh) and July 2023 (5.29 TWh).

In terms of the distribution of gas consumption by end-use in the first two months of 2024, electricity had the largest share with 5.82 TWh (or 53.3%), down by less than one percentage point compared to the first two months of 2023 (54.1%). The share of distribution networks also decreased, falling from 40.4% (or 3.39 TWh) in the first two months of 2023 to 32.2% (or 3.51 TWh).

The redistribution of shares is the result of a large increase in the share of industry, where gas use increased by almost 9 percentage points in 2024 (14.5% or 1.58 TWh) compared to 5.6% (or 0.47 TWh) in the first two months of 2023.

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 eleven-month period April 2023 – February 2024, the country failed to reach the European reduction target. Specifically, total consumption for the eleven months was 49.45 TWh, which is an increase of 2.74 TWh compared to the target (46.72 TWh). This consumption amounts to a reduction of 10% compared to the average for the reference period (54.96 TWh), five percentage points below the 15% target.

Comparison with the European Union for the voluntary European target of -15%

Based on the latest available Eurostat data[1] on monthly gas consumption in the EU-27 Member States (January 2024), during the April 2023 – January 2024 period Greece reduced its consumption by 10.1% compared to the reference period[2] of the voluntary reduction target. This performance, apart from being almost 5 percentage points away from the voluntary reduction target, ranks Greece very low compared to the rest of the EU countries, namely in 23rd place. In fact, it is 8 places lower than the European average, as the EU-27 achieved a reduction of -16.7% and was in 15th place, thus achieving the voluntary reduction target so far (the reduction period ends in March 2024).

This is an alarming deterioration of the national performance compared to that of the mandatory target imposed by the EU at the peak of the energy crisis to reduce fossil gas consumption by at least 15% in the eight-month period August 2022-March 2023 compared to the average of the previous five-year period. Specifically, Greece had achieved a 21.9% reduction and was in 10th place, surpassing both the European average (16th place) and countries such as Germany, Austria or Italy.

Imports in 2024

Regarding the natural gas flows from the country’s four entry gates, in February 2024 gas imports from Russia via the Turkstream pipeline from the Sidirokastro gate (2.43 TWh) were the second highest since the beginning of the war in Ukraine (March 2022), after October 2023 (2.79 TWh). The monthly share of imports from Turkstream, reached almost 50% (49.4%) and was five times higher than imports in February 2023.

In contrast to the Sidirokastro gate, at the Agia Triada gate the monthly flow of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in February 2024 (1.58 TWh) decreased by 53.5% and ranked in second place with a share of 32.1%.

Gas from TAP via Nea Mesimvria was third with a share of 18.5% (0.91 TWh increasing by  31.7% compared to February 2023. The imports from Kipoi in Turkey (the fourth entry gateway) were zero for a second consecutive month.

Cumulatively for the first two months of 2024, total imports from the country’s four gateways were 10.95 TWh. LNG imports through the Agia Triada ranked first among the supply sources with 4.71 TWh – a 35.6% decrease compared to the first two months of 2023 and a 43% share.

Slightly lower was the share of Russian gas imports from pipelines through the Sidirokastro gate (40% or 4.38 TWh), where imports in the first two months of 2024 appeared 9 times higher than in the same period last year. In third place, with a much lower share (17% or 1.87 TWh), were imports of Azerbaijani gas from TAP, slightly higher compared to the first two months of 2023 (+5.1%).

Finally, there were zero gas exports through the Sidirokastro gate for the 6th consecutive month (since September 2023).

Russian gas imports to Greece

As far as fossil gas from Russia is concerned, there are two entry points: one s from Sidirokastro through the Turkstream pipeline and a second one in the form of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the Agia Triada gate.

The energy crisis, intensified by the war in Ukraine, resulted in a significant reduction in Russian gas imports from Turkstream as early as April 2022. This was reflected in the 86.2% reduction of Russian gas from this pipeline during the period of the mandatory reduction target (August 2022-March 2023) compared to the same period of the previous year.

Russian gas in the form of LNG was first imported into the country in October 2022, a few months after Russia’s war in Ukraine began. Until mid-2023, the first source of imports into the country was LNG (excluding Russian LNG) from the Agia Triada gate.

June 2023 was the first month when Russian gas (from pipeline and LNG) became the first source of imports with a 46% share, followed by LNG from all other countries except Russia (37% share). In fact, this continued for all other months of 2023 until February 2024[3].

It is noteworthy that in the nine-month period of June 2023 – February 2024, total Russian gas imports were at least 24.8 TWh[4], which is 30% more than the corresponding nine-month period before the Russian invasion of Ukraine (19.07 TWh between June 2021 and February 2022). It can therefore be noted that Russian gas imports not only increased, but also exceeded pre-energy crisis levels. Russian LNG imports played an important role in this, since during the nine-month period of June 2023-February 2024 at least 29.2% of total Russian gas imports were in the form of LNG.

Read here the analyses of the previous months since the start of the EU reduction measures in August 2022.

[1] Some of the Eurostat data, especially for the last few months, are provisional and will be finalized in the coming months. Cyprus has not been included in the comparison as it has zero gas consumption.

[2] This period is the average of the April-January intervals from 2017 to 2022.

[3] For February there is no data in Eurostat for Russian LNG, but even Russian gas from Turkstream was more than LNG imports from Agia Triada, so it is certainly the first source of imports.

[4] The actual imports are probably more as they do not include possible imports of Russian LNG in February 2024.