For the first time ever, Europe’s LNG imports overtakes pipeline gas imports

June 30, 2023

According to data from the Energy Institute, liquefied natural gas imports into Europe for the first time ever surpassed pipeline imports. 

In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its threat to halt gas shipments to several European countries, Europe hurriedly took steps to distance itself from Russian pipeline gas last year. The fact that Europe’s LNG imports had surpassed its Russian nat gas imports via pipeline is of particular note since, as Bloomberg noted on Monday, the Energy Institute’s data also showed that global natural gas production was relatively stable last year compared to 2021 levels.

According to data from the Energy Institute, Europe’s pipeline imports of natural gas dropped by 35% in 2022 to 150.8 bcm, with the majority of that still coming from Russia. Meanwhile, Europe’s LNG imports have risen to more than 170 billion cubic meters. 

Europe had to build LNG import terminals in order to reach this level of LNG imports. While Asia increased its LNG imports, Russia’s overall share of global natural gas pipeline exports fell to 29% last year from around 43%, where it had been for the previous ten years. 

While Europe has been reluctant to lock in long-term agreements to secure LNG supplies as it aims to reduce its emissions by 55% by 2030 and then to net zero by 2050, Asia is less concerned about doing so. Asia has no such concerns, giving it an advantage over Europe in terms of securing LNG supplies. Some have questioned Europe’s energy positioning in the lead-up to the upcoming winter because of Asia’s advantage, especially if the winter turns out to be quite cold.

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