2019 was a record year for natural gas and LNG

2019 was a revolutionary year for the natural gas market, since the balance shifted in this sector both concerning the source of the fuel and the market shares of the companies.

According to the picture of the market shortly before the end of 2019, imported LNG had almost the same share as gas imported through pipelines. Specifically, during the last few months, LNG represented two thirds of consumption in the Greek market and this trend is expected to continue in 2020. Until the end of the year 52 cargoes were delivered in the terminal of Revythousa, thus increasing LNG’s share. This huge boost in LNG drove the entire indigenous market to a new record, while another important development was the first exports from Greece to Bulgaria.

In 2017, natural gas consumption reached 53.570 GWh, while in 2018 it was reduced to 52,451 GWh. For 2019, DEPA presented data that speak of over 60 GWh with a rise of 15%.

Increased LNG unloading

As mentioned previously, behind the rapid rise of 2019 is the jump in LNG use. LNG unloading was 15.54 GWh in 2017 and 11,598 GWh in 2018, which correspond to 30% and 22% of total gas consumption in the country. In 2019, total quantities from Revythousa surpassed 27 GWh, so they reached at least 45% of total consumption.

The reason behind the rapid rise of LNG imports is the fact that LNG prices were very competitive compared to pipeline gas. Also, from an infrastructure standpoint, Revythousa can now receive larger cargoes after construction of its third terminal and the 52 cargoes of this year came from countries that could not export gas to Greece until now, such as Nigeria, Qatar or even the US. Of course, other than the aforementioned sources, imports were made from Algeria who is a constant DEPA supplier, but also from Norway.

Furthermore, according to DESFA’s annual planning, demand for LNG cargoes in 2020 has skyrocketed. From 52 cargoes in 2019, 65 slots have been claimed for 2020 that correspond to 9,098 million c.m. The distribution of the slots is as follows: 22 slots for Mytilineos and Elpedison, 14 slots (same as last year but for almost double the quantity with larger cargoes) for DEPA and 7 slots for Heron.

Its importance

LNG holds great importance both for the internal balance of the gas and power markets, as well as the peripheral energy market of the Balkans. The rise in LNG trade is caused primarily by its extremely competitive prices in the global market. LNG’s low cost was a benefit not only for traders, but also for power producers who took advantage of the opportunity to enhance the competitiveness of their plants. This trend is reflected in ADMIE’s official data for the power market, according to which the share of lignite has dropped below 20% (-27.9% since last year), while the share of natural gas has risen to 32% (+29.5 since last year).

Prospects

It should be noted that prospects in the gas market remain positive and according to DESFA’s ten year development plan, demand is expected to rise till the end of the next decade to 7 bcm. Nonetheless, the operator’s plan was drawn before the governments proclamation to divest in lignite and withdraw PPC’s lignite plants by 2028. This practically means that demand for gas in Greece will reach 8 bcm, that is one more because of the new situation in the power market.

A growing “pie”

The second greatest change in the gas market concerns company market shares. The enlarged “pie” and further opportunities for Greece to provide gas to other countries as a hub using LNG from Revythousa, are strengthening DEPA’s upcoming privatization.

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