European natural gas storage inventories were at the highest ever recorded level for the start of March – 60 per cent full as of 1 March, 2020.

Europe’s natural gas storage capacity utilisation for the first day of March has typically been 38 per cent, based on the previous five years; in 2020, natural gas stocks in Europe started March at 60 per cent of capacity.

Gas Storage Europe’s Aggregated Gas Storage Inventory (AGSI+) said European stock levels for both January and February 2020 were the highest ever recorded for those months, which it said are the result of growing natural gas imports by pipeline and as LNG, and a mild winter, which limited winter heating demand.

These two factors combined meant natural gas withdrawals from storage were lower than average, resulting in record-high January and February inventory levels. 

Russia and the US increased LNG exports to Europe last year by an estimated 1.4 billion ft3/d and 1.5 billion ft3/d, respectively, compared with 2018. 

The US has been the largest LNG supplier to Europe since November 2019, and in February 2020, LNG imports from the United States reached a new record high at 5.1 billion ft3/d – nearly double the volume of Europe’s second-largest supplier, Qatar.

LNG imports set monthly records of 14 billion ft3/d in December 2019 and February 2020 (excluding re-exports, where a country imports and then exports LNG), implying a Europe-wide regasification capacity utilisation of almost 60 per cent.

LNG imports into Europe had been relatively low between 2012 and mid-2018, but they increased substantially in 2019, averaging 11 billion ft3/d, which is almost twice the volume in the two previous years. 

Pipeline import capacity has also increased in recent years across Europe, including the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline from Azerbaijan – and additional sources of supply into the European market are entering service this year. 

In January, the Turk Stream pipeline entered service, delivering natural gas under the Black Sea directly to Turkey and Bulgaria. The Trans Adriatic Pipeline, which will deliver natural gas from Azerbaijan to southeast Europe, is currently undergoing commissioning and should be completed in mid-2020.

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30th March 2020