Germany's Gas Imports Dropped 15% in January, Cost 40% less

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany imported 15.1% less natural gas in January than a year earlier, while its import bill dropped by 40% due to lower prices, official data showed on Thursday.

The volume of January imports totalled 494,975 Terajoules (TJ) or 14.1 Bcm, according to trade statistics office BAFA, which releases data with a time lag.

German importers paid 2.1 billion euros ($2.28 billion) in the month compared with 3.5 billion a year earlier for their gas, which is partly linked to crude oil prices.

Gas, power and carbon traders watch gas imports because possible imbalances in supply and demand can change prices and traded volumes in all three markets. 

These markets also related to coal, which competes with gas in burning for electricity. 

There is abundant gas supply in Europe as winter ends.

German gas stocks were at 71.3% of available storage capacity this week, European gas infrastructure group GIE's website showed. That compared with 54.5% a year earlier.

Germany mainly imports from Russia, Norway, the Netherlands, Britain and Denmark via pipelines while imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) are also increasing in the region.

BAFA, which does not specify origins, said the average price paid on the border in January was to 4,200.07 euros/TJ, 30.3% less than during the same month in 2019 and equivalent to 1.51 euro cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), BAFA said.

The gas price reductions, along with a still relatively high carbon price, have encouraged the burning of more gas in power generation, data from energy group BDEW showed this week.

In the first quarter of 2020, the share of gas in Germany's power output mix has risen to 15.5% form 14.4% a year earlier. ($1 = 0.9211 euros)

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