BAKU, Azerbaijan, July 12
By Leman Zeynalova - Trend:
EU gas consumption in the first quarter of 2021 rose by 7.6% (10 bcm) in year-on-year comparison, after practically stagnating in the third quarter of 2020 and a slight increase (2.4%) in Q4 2020, Trend reports with reference to the European Commission.
In absolute numbers, the quarterly gas consumption in Q1 2021 amounted to an estimated 141.8 bcm, up from 131.7 bcm in Q1 2020, and rising from 120.6 bcm in Q4 2020, with the peak of the heating season in the first three months of the year. In electricity generation, demand for gas rose by 3.4% year-on-year (increasing by 4.9 TWh). Weather across Europe was generally warmer than usual in Q1 2021, but in January and February occasional cold spells also impacted residential heating needs. However, widespread practice of teleworking might also have contributed to the increase of natural gas consumption in the residential sector in year-on-year comparison. As Figure 1 below shows, in the first quarter of 2021 gas consumption in the EU was higher than in the same months of 2020, closer to the upper range of the last five years.
In the first quarter of 2021, the biggest year-on-year percentage decrease in gas consumption could be observed in Malta (by - 20%, though with marginal quantity), Portugal (by -13%, -0.2 bcm), and Croatia (by -9%, -0.1 bcm). Out of the bigger gas consumer countries, only Spain faced a decrease in consumption in Q1 2021 (by -2%, -0.2 bcm). In all other 22 Member States (no data available for Cyprus) gas consumption in Q1 2021 was up year-on-year. Gas consumption, in order of percentage changes, rose by the most in Latvia (43%, by 0.2 bcm), Sweden (by 40%, 0.1 bcm) and in Finland (by 36%, 0.3 bcm). Among the five biggest gas consumer countries, consumption went down in Spain (see above), whereas it rose in Germany (by 11%, 3.4 bcm), in the Netherlands (by 10%, 1.4 bcm), in France (by 6%, 0.9 bcm) and in Italy (by 5%, 1.2 bcm). In Q1 2021 there were twelve EU Member States where the year-on-year change in gas consumption was greater than 10%.
In the first quarter of 2021, GDP in the EU-27 was still down by 1.2% in year-on-year comparison, after registering a decrease of 4.6% year-on-year in Q4 2020. The EU economy still could not get back to its pre-pandemic level. However, natural gas consumption managed to increase in Q1 2021 year-on-year, even if GDP decreased, which points to an increase in those sectors that consume significant amount of gas.