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German gas import costs surge 160% as imports drop 23%

German natural gas import costs rose by 160% in the first five months of 2022 from a year earlier, even though imports were down by 22.9%, official data showed on Wednesday.

Europe’s biggest economy mainly imports gas from Russia, Norway, the Netherlands, Britain and Denmark, but has turned more to liquefied natural gas (LNG) since the Ukraine crisis.

The May statistics from Germany’s foreign trade office are the third to reflect the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24, and Western sanctions against what the Kremlin calls a “special military operation”.

Russia last week cut flows through Nord Stream 1, the major gas delivery route to Europe via Germany, to a fifth of its capacity, forcing importers and governments to scramble for substitutes before the heating season from October.

Gas, power and carbon traders monitor gas imports because the supply and demand balance affects prices and traded volumes in all three markets. NG/EUEL/DE

Gas data also correlates with coal, which competes in the production of electricity, while also giving clues about demand for mandatory European Union carbon emissions permits.

German foreign trade office BAFA’s monthly statistics, which are published with a two-month delay, showed January-May imports at 1,763,161 terajoules (TJ), or 50.1 billion cubic metres (bcm), compared with 2,287,260 TJ a year earlier.

As supply disruptions propelled gas prices to record highs, Germany’s import bill increased to 26.3 billion euros ($26.74 billion) in the five-month period, compared with 10.1 billion euros in the same period of 2021, BAFA data showed.

The average price paid on the border during January to May was up 236% year on year at 14,896.43 euros/TJ, BAFA said.

The May price of 15,072.8 euros was equivalent to 5.43 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), nearly three times that of May 2021.

German gas inventories are at 69.4% of available storage capacity, European gas infrastructure group GIE’s website showed. This compared with 50.9% a year ago.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Vera Eckert; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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