Europe’s LNG imports rose last year to levels that surpassed its imports of natural gas via pipeline, according to new data from the Energy Institute.
Europe scrambled last year to distance itself from Russian pipeline gas after Russia invaded Ukraine and threatened to cut off gas shipments to several European nations.
As Bloomberg noted on Monday, the Energy Institute’s data also showed that global natural gas production was fairly stable last year compared to 2021 levels—so the fact that Europe’s LNG imports had overtaken its Russian nat gas imports via pipeline is of particular note.
The Energy Institute’s data shows that Europe’s natural gas imports via pipeline in 2022 were 35% lower than the previous year, coming in at 150.8 bcm—most of which still came from Russia. Meanwhile, Europe’s LNG imports rose to more than 170 bcm.
To achieve this level of LNG imports, Europe had to construct import terminals for LNG.
Asia increased its imports of LNG also, while Russia’s overall share of the world’s nat gas pipeline exports fell to 29% last year, compared to about 43%, where it’s hovered for the last decade. Asia, however, isn’t too concerned about locking in long-term deals to secure LNG supplies—something Europe has been loathed to do as it sets its sights on cutting its emissions by 55% by 2030—and then net-zero by 2050. Asia has no such reservations, and therefore has a leg up on Europe when it comes to securing LNG supplies.
This leg-up for Asia has caused some to question Europe’s energy positioning in the run up to next winter, particularly if it turns out to be a rather cold winter.
Norway is now the single-largest gas supplier to Europe.