Trends in fossil gas consumption & imports – May 2024

Electricity production was primarily responsible for a 56.1% jump in gas use in Greece in May 2024 compared to the same month in 2023. Russian gas via pipeline and in the form of LNG was the main source of Greece’s gas imports with a 56.8% share in the first five months of 2024.

The month of May

According to the latest available data from DESFA, in May 2024, total domestic gas consumption approached 5 TWh (4.97 TWh), exceeding the May 2023 consumption by 56.1% (+1.8 TWh). The largest increase in absolute terms compared to May last year came from electricity (+1.43 TWh or +65%) and was followed by industry (+0.42 ΤWh or +125.7%).

Gas use in electricity was the highest in six years (2019-2024) for the month of May, while industrial gas use (0.82 TWh) was the second highest since 2021 (0.94 TWh). In contrast, gas use in grids decreased marginally by 0.07 TWh (-10.1%).

Cumulative performance in the first five months of 2024

Cumulatively gas consumption for the first five months of 2024 was 25.38 TWh, marking an increase for the first time in 2024 compared to the five-year average by 1.03 TWh (+4.22%). The increase was even larger compared to the first five months of 2023 (+5.93 TWh or +30.5%).

Regarding end-uses, the largest increase compared to the five-year average was recorded in industry (+42.5% or +1.22 TWh), followed by electricity (+4.8% or 0.71 TWh). In contrast, there was a decrease in networks (-13.1% or -0.89 TWh).

Similarly, when comparing the first five months of 2024 with the same period in 2023, the largest percentage increase was in industry (+188.7% or +2.66 TWh), followed by electricity (+30.1% or +3.55 TWh). In contrast, there was a decrease in distribution networks (-4.5% or -2.82 TWh).

Consumption in 2024

Gas consumption in May 2024 (4.97 TWh) was the third highest of the year. However, comparing 2024 with 2023 on a month-to-month basis, May saw the highest percentage increase in 2024, comparing each month with the same month in 2023 (+56.1%).

Looking at the breakdown of gas consumption by end-use in the first five months of 2024, electricity had the largest share with 15.36 TWh (or 60.5%), almost equal to the first five months of 2023 (60.7%).

The share in distribution networks decreased from 32% (or 6.23 TWh) in the first five months of 2023 to 23.4% (or 5.95 TWh). This redistribution was the result of a large increase in the share of industry, which rose from 7.3% (or 1.41 TWh) in the first five months of 2023 to almost 10 percentage points in 2024 (16.1% or 4.07 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 two months of the new period, that is April-May 2024, the country did not decrease its gas consumption compared to the reference period, but actually increased it. In particular, consumption (9.17 TWh) was 2.65 TWh higher than the target (6.52 TWh), while it exceeds the average of the reference period (7.67 TWh) by 1.5 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 (April 2024), for the first month of the new voluntary reduction period (April 2024 – March 2025) Greece reduced its consumption by 2.1% in April 2024 compared to the reference period[2] of the voluntary reduction target.

This performance, apart from being almost 13 percentage points away from the voluntary reduction target, places Greece two places from the bottom (25th) compared to the rest of the EU and 12 places below the EU-27 average (-17.7%) which is on track to reach the voluntary reduction target at the beginning of the new voluntary reduction period.

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 (3.13TWh) were eleven times higher in May 2024 than imports in May 2023, resulting in a 64.1% monthly share of imports from Turkstream. Moreover, they were the second highest imports in at least seven years for the month of May, marginally behind imports in May 2018 (3.14 TWh).

In contrast to the Sidirokastro gate, at the Agia Triada gate the monthly flow of liquefied fossil gas (LNG) in May 2024 was significantly reduced to just 0.74 TWh, down 74.9% compared to May 2023. Consecutively, LNG ranked third for a second month in a row, with a 15.2% share of total imports. However, since the end of February, LNG imports have been carried out from the new FSRU station in Alexandroupolis, which has not yet become commercially operational. Based on the data published so far, 0.28 TWh have been imported from this gateway[3].

Gas from TAP via New Mesimvria took the second place in May with a share of 20.6% (1 TWh), for which an increase of 15.3% was recorded compared to May 2023. Imports from the fourth gateway to Turkey, the Gardens, were zero for the fifth consecutive month, that is since the beginning of the year.

Cumulatively for the first five months of 2024, total imports from the country’s four gateways were 25.36 TWh. Gas imports through the Sidirokastro gate are now the first source of supply in the country with 12.49 TWh and a share of almost 50% (49.3%). The corresponding share in the first five months of 2023 was only 6.9%.

In second place with 7.85 TWh and a share of 31% are LNG imports through the Agia Triada gateway, but with a large decrease of 50.8% compared to the first five months of 2023. In third place with 4.72 TWh and a share of 18.6% or) maintained Azerbaijani gas imports through TAP, up 23.5% compared to the first five months of 2023.

Finally, there were zero gas exports through the Sidirokastro gate for the 9th 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 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 trend continued for all other months of 2023 until May 2024[4]. Specifically, in the first five months of 2024, Russian gas exceeded 50% of the country’s total gas imports (at least 56.8%[5]). This high share is mainly due to the imports of Russian gas through the pipeline, as LNG was reduced in the first two months of 2024 and even zero for the months of March and April.

It is noteworthy that in the twelve-month period of June 2023 – May 2024, total Russian gas imports were at least 33.86 TWh[6], which is 50.1% more than the corresponding twelve-month period before the Russian invasion of Ukraine (22.56 TWh between June 2021 and May 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-May 2024 at least 24.3% 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). However, Russian gas imports through the Turkstream pipeline (Sidirokastro gateway) not only held the largest share of Russian gas imports overall, but also showed a significant increase especially in the last five months.

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 intervals from 2017 to 2022.

[3] LNG imports from the entry gate at Amfitriti, where the Alexandroupolis FSRU is located, do not appear every month in DESFA’s monthly reports.

[4] For May, there is no data in Eurostat for Russian LNG.

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