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EU’s Natural Gas Demand in 2023 Hits Lowest Level in 15 Years

The demand for natural gas in the European Union (EU) has taken a downturn for the second year in a row, reaching the lowest level since 2008, as evidenced by data from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.

The data suggests that, following a 13.3% yearly decrease in 2022, the demand for natural gas in the EU fell by another 7.4% in 2023, reaching 12.72 million terajoules. This is said to be the lowest demand on record since the collection of monthly aggregated data started in 2008.

The reduction is perceived to be influenced by measures outlined in the Council Regulation 2022/1369 on coordinated demand-reduction measures for gas, as part of the REPowerEU plan announced in March 2022 and presented two months later.

As Russia’s attack on Ukraine caused turmoil in Europe’s energy market, the REPowerEU plan was introduced to diversify gas supplies, speed up the roll-out of renewable gases, and replace gas in heating and power generation, with the ultimate goals of ending the EU’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels, and tackling the climate crisis.

In line with this, the largest natural gas consumers in the EU reduced their demand in 2023. Compared to 2022, the demand for natural gas in Germany dropped by 3.8%, reaching 2.96 million terajoules, in Italy it fell by 10.0%, amounting to 2.35 million terajoules, and France had an 11.7% decrease or demand of 1.36 million terajoules.

While there was a decrease in 21 out of 27 EU countries, the remaining six experienced a boost in demand. Finland and Sweden were the only countries that recorded an increase greater than 10%, with a 25.6% and 11.1% increase, respectively. Next, the demand grew by 5.3% in Poland and 4.5% in Malta, followed by a 1.1% increase in Denmark and a 0.8% in Croatia. 

Apart from reducing gas demand, the EU has been taking other steps to speed up decarbonization. One of them was the recent move towards leaving the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), a 20-year-old multilateral treaty on energy security described as “climate-hostile” by an EU Rapporteur.

After several member states decided to exit it individually, the European Commission proposed a coordinated withdrawal from the treaty, quoting its incompatibility with the climate goals under the European Green Deal and the Paris Agreement as the reason for the decision.

Source: Offshore Energy

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