Imports of LNG to the 28 countries that make up the EU averaged 5.1 billion ft3/d in 2017, increasing for the third consecutive year but remaining below their 2011 peak, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).
In 2017, imports of LNG into the EU accounted for 13% of the global total. LNG import capacity in EU countries currently stands at 20 billion ft3/d, or almost one-fifth of the global total, but utilisation of EU LNG import facilities has declined from about 50% in 2010 to between 20% and 25% in recent years as expansions in regasification capacity far exceeded demand for LNG imports.
Currently, 13 of the EU member countries import LNG. In 2017, LNG accounted for 11% of EU’s overall natural gas supply. Domestic natural gas production in the EU, two-thirds of which is in the UK and the Netherlands, has steadily declined in recent years and in 2017 accounted for 25% of EU natural gas supply. European natural gas production is expected to continue to decline because of an ageing, mostly depleted resource base. In addition, the Netherlands’ largest natural gas field, Groningen, has been subject to increasingly strict production reduction measures.
Imports of natural gas by pipeline, in particular from Russia and Norway, have increased. In 2017, natural gas imports from Russia provided 35% of the total EU supply and Norway provided 24%. In the first six months of 2018, pipeline imports from Russia continued to increase, averaging a record 17.1 billion ft3/d, 8% higher than in the same period last year, based on data from S&P Global Platts.
Going forward, LNG imports in Europe will have to compete on a cost basis with existing and new pipeline supplies of natural gas, particularly from Russia. A new undersea pipeline from Russia to Germany – Nord Stream 2, with a capacity of 5.3 billion ft3/d – has secured permits needed for construction in Russia, Germany, Finland, and Sweden. Construction of the Russian portion of the pipeline has started, but developers have not been able to obtain permits in Poland and Denmark and have been considering alternative routes. This pipeline's expected in-service date is the end of 2019.
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