EU reaches record high LNG imports in 2019

Qatar, Russia, and U.S. were top three LNG suppliers to Europe last year, according to European Commission's latest report

Ebru Sengul Cevrioglu  | 08.04.2020 - Update : 09.04.2020
EU reaches record high LNG imports in 2019

IZMIR, Turkey 

The EU imported the highest ever volume of LNG in 2019 at 108 billion cubic meters (bcm), marking 27% of total gas imports and 22% of the EU's gas consumption, according to the European Commission's (EC) report on the gas market.

The European Commission's latest reports on gas and electricity markets covering a wide range of data on supply and usage of electricity and gas in the EU in the fourth quarter of 2019 were published on Tuesday.

The gas market report showed that Qatar supplied 30 bcm of LNG to the EU in 2019, followed by Russia with 21 bcm and the U.S. with 17 bcm.

"In 2019, increasing competition could be observed between the U.S. and Russia in LNG supply to the EU," the report read.

EU LNG imports showed a significant increase, up by 42% year-on-year in in the last quarter of 2019. "Prices in different regions (e.g.: between Europe and Asia) remained aligned amid well-supplied global LNG markets, enabling plentiful LNG influx to Europe," the report explained.

The increase in European LNG imports was also helped by decreased demand for LNG in many Asian markets amid increasing global LNG supply, it added.

In the fourth quarter of 2019, the EU LNG import reached 30.4 bcm, marking a year-on-year increase of 42% compared to the same period in 2018. In the last quarter of 2019, the U.S. became the leading LNG supply source for the EU, ensuring 25% of the total imports, ahead of Qatar at 23%, Russia with 19% and Nigeria at 11%.

However, with the exception of November and December 2019, and despite increasing EU LNG imports from the U.S., Russia exported more LNG to the EU than the U.S. in each month in 2019.

The report argued that this implies that Russia made efforts to maintain its influence on the European gas market, complementing the pipeline business with a growing LNG supply.

During the same period of 2019, the U.K. became the biggest LNG importer with 7 bcm, ahead of France with 6 bcm and Spain with 5.4 bcm.

- Record drop in CO2 emissions in power production

The European Commission's latest report on electricity markets also showed that electricity generation from solid fuels - coal plus lignite in the EU fell by 26% year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2019, with a marked shift to renewables and a modest increase in gas.

These changes mean the share of renewable energy in the EU power mix reached 35%, the highest ever for a fourth-quarter yet, compared to 31% in the same quarter of 2018.

Compared to the same quarter of the previous year, the share of fossil fuels; solid fuels, gas, and oil in the last quarter of 2019 decreased from 42% to 39%.

"Looking at the whole of 2019, the EU electricity sector decreased its greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 12% thanks to higher renewables generation and coal-to-gas switching, bringing about a substantial contribution to Europe’s decarbonization efforts," the report concluded.

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