Europe’s Demand for LNG Set to Peak in 2024 as Crisis Fades

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The European Union’s demand for liquefied natural gas, which provided a key lifeline during the energy crisis, will likely peak this year as the region accelerates its renewables transition, according to the bloc’s energy regulator.

If renewable “targets are fully met, the gas demand reduction foreseen by 2030 will be slightly over 200 billion cubic meters relative to 2019,” according to a report from the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators released Friday. That’s equivalent to around 130% of the EU’s pre-war gas imports from Russia.

From 2027, the bloc will be over-contracted for gas, but flexible agreements should mean that “such contractual surpluses should be easily manageable,” and diverted elsewhere, the report said.

The data adds to evidence that Europe’s energy crisis, which sent gas prices soaring to all-time highs, is at its end even as the continent becomes the world’s largest importer of LNG. It also means that the US decision to halt fresh projects for the export of the super-chilled fuel is unlikely to have a significant impact for the bloc’s energy security as its roll-out of renewables accelerates.


ACER said that the EU’s LNG demand may even have topped out last year unless the upcoming winter is a particularly cold one.

Still, the EU’s dependence on Russian LNG supplies is far from over even as it looks to phase out all fossil fuels from the country by 2027. Last year Spain received almost 40% of the 18 billion cubic meters that came to Europe’s shores with a further third going to France and a fifth to Belgium. These are mostly the result of long-term contracts signed before 2022, ACER said.

Member states will soon have tools to bloc Russian LNG arriving at European ports, yet ACER said it could be challenging due to the contracts signed before the war. The watchdog said that a reduction of those supplies should be gradual, starting with the spot market. The expiry of a pipeline transit agreement with Ukraine at the end of the year could reduce gas deliveries to the bloc by around 14 billion cubic meters.

“Reductions in Russian LNG imports should be approached with caution,” the report said.

Dutch front-month futures, Europe’s gas benchmark, are hovering just above €30 a megawatt-hour. Prices were 10 times that during the height of the energy crisis in 2022.

Contrary to concerns from activists that Europe may be burdened by stranded assets built during the energy crisis, ACER said that floating storage terminals, which make up three quarters of new capacity, could simply be re-purposed or relocated.

(Updates with detail on Russian LNG supplies from seventh paragraph.)

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

By John Ainger


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