Trends in fossil gas consumption & imports – April 2024

In April, LNG flows from the Agia Triada gate were significantly reduced to just 0.71 TWh, while together with the flows from the new FSRU at Amfitriti, LNG imports reached 1 TWh. On the other hand, Russian gas imports from Sidirokastro were the first source of gas imports in the first four months of 2024. However, March was the first month of 2024 with zero Russian LNG imports. Greece did not meet the voluntary gas consumption reduction target (-8.4%) for the period April 2023 – March 2024 and was ranked 23rd among Member States, 7 places below the European average (-17.7%).

The month of April

According to the latest available data from DESFA, in April 2024 total domestic gas consumption (4.2 TWh) exceeded that of April 2023 by 8.1% (+0.3 TWh).

The largest increase in absolute terms compared to April last year came from industry (+0.48 TWh or +144%), followed by electricity (+0.07 TWh or +2.5%).

Industrial gas use (0.82 TWh) was the second highest in six years (2019-2024) for the month of April after 2021 (1.1 TWh).  In contrast, gas usage in networks decreased by 0.23 TWh (-26.6%), recording the lowest usage in six years.

Cumulative performance in the first four months of 2024

Cumulatively gas consumption for the first four months of 2024 was 20.41 TWh, down by 0.2 TWh (-1%) compared to the five-year average. In contrast, a large increase of 4.14 TWh (+25.5%) was recorded compared to the first four months of 2023. The percentage increase was limited compared to the previous months of 2024 (+30% in the first quarter).

Compared to the five-year average, there was a decrease in two of the three gas uses. The largest percentage decrease occurred in distribution networks (-14.5% ή -0.91 TWh), followed by electricity (-2.5% ή -0.3 TWh). In contrast, industry saw an increase (+43.5 ή +1 TWh).

The picture changes when comparing the first four months of 2024 to 2023, as there was an increase in industry and electricity. The largest percentage increase was in industry (+208.5%, +2.24 TWh), followed by electricity (+22.1% ή +2.12 TWh). Finally, there was a decrease in distribution networks (-3.88% ή -0.22 TWh).

Consumption in 2024

Gas consumption in April 2024 (4.2 TWh) was the lowest monthly consumption in 2024. Moreover, comparing 2024 with 2023, April saw the smallest increase in absolute terms, compared to the same month of 2023.

In terms of the distribution of gas consumption by end-use in the first four months of 2024, electricity had the largest share with 11.7 TWh (or 57.5%), down by almost two percentage points compared to the first four months of 2023 (59.1%). The share of distribution networks also decreased, falling from 34.3% (or 5.6 TWh) in the first four months of 2023 to 26.3% (or 5.36 TWh).

The redistribution of shares is the result of a large increase in the share of industry, which from 6.6% in 2024 (1.07 TWh) in the first four months of 2023, increased by almost 10 percentage points in 2024 (16.2% or 3.3 TWh).

The voluntary European target of -15%

In March 2024, the European Union issued a recommendation for Member States to continue to strive for gas consumption reduction by 15% for the period April 2024 to March 2025, compared to the reference period from 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2022. This recommendation follows the mandatory directive in August 2022 to reduce gas consumption by 15% in the eight-month period of August 2022-March 2023 compared to a baseline period, as well as the decision in March 2023 to voluntarily reduce consumption between April 2023 and March 2024.

Therefore, considering Greece’s performance so far, it appears that for the first month of the period, that is April 2024, the country not only did not decrease its gas consumption compared to the reference period, but instead increased it. In particular, consumption (4.2 TWh) was 0.82 TWh higher than the target (3.38 TWh). This corresponds to a percentage increase of 5.7% compared to the average of the reference period (3.97 TWh).

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 (March 2024), during the April 2023 – March 2024 period Greece reduced its consumption by 8.4% compared to the reference period[2] of the voluntary reduction target. This performance, apart from being almost 7 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 7 places lower than the European average, as the EU-27 achieved a reduction of -17.7% and was in 15th place, thus achieving the voluntary reduction target.

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

Gas imports from Russia via the Turkstream pipeline from the Sidirokastro gate (2.32 TWh) were eight times higher in April 2024 than imports in April 2023. As a result, the monthly share of imports from Turkstream reached 55%.

In contrast to the Sidirokastro gate, at the Agia Triada gate the monthly flow of liquefied fossil gas (LNG) in April 2024 was significantly reduced to just 0.71 TWh, down 75.9% compared to April 2023 and for the first time ranked third with a 16.9% share of total imports.

However, April also saw imports of LNG from the new Alexandroupolis FSRU station, which is expected to enter commercial operation in May 2024. From this gateway 0.28 TWh was imported, so LNG in total approached 1 TWh (0.99 TWh).

In second place in April was gas from TAP via Nea Mesimbria with a 21.5% share (0.91 TWh), for which a 3.8% increase was recorded compared to April 2023. Imports from the fourth gateway to Turkey, the Gardens, were zero for the fourth consecutive month

Cumulatively for the first four months of 2024, total imports from the country’s four gateways were 20.47 TWh. Gas imports through the Sidirokastro gate are now the first source of supply in the country with 9.36 TWh and a share of 45.7%. The corresponding share in the first four months of 2023 was only 8.4%.

The share of LNG imports from Agia Triada gate was lower: it fell to the second place with a share of 34.7% and 7.1 TWh in the first four months of 2024. Together with the LNG flows from Amphitrite, LNG imports took a 36.1% share. Imports of Azerbaijani gas from TAP remained in third place with a lower share (18.1% or 3.71 TWh), marking an increase compared to the first four months 2023 (+19.7%).

Finally, there were zero gas exports through the Sidirokastro gate for the 8th 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 from Sidirokastro through the Turkstream pipeline and a second one in the form of liquefied fossil gas (LNG) either from the Agia Triada or Amfitriti gateway.

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 Greece 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 March 2024[3].

Specifically, in the first four months of 2024, Russian gas exceeded 50% of the country’s total gas imports (at least 55.1%[4]). March was the first month with zero imports of Russian LNG, after four consecutive months of non-zero imports.

It is noteworthy that in the eleven-month period of June 2023 – April 2024, total Russian gas imports were at least 30.73 TWh[5], which is 37.1% more than the corresponding eleven-month period before the Russian invasion of Ukraine (22.41 TWh between June 2021 and April 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-April 2024 at least 26.6% of total Russian gas imports were in the form of LNG, while the rest of the Russian gas imports were made through the Turkstream pipeline (Sidirokastro gate).

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-March intervals from 2017 to 2022.

[3] For April there is no data in Eurostat for Russian LNG.

[4] Actual imports are likely higher, as they do not include potential imports of Russian LNG in April 2024.