July 30, 2020 / 3:28 PM / 11 days ago

Germany increased gas imports in January-May, lower prices cut bills

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany imported 8.7% more natural gas in the first five months of 2020 than in the year earlier period but paid almost a third less for the supply, taking advantage of lower prices, official data showed on Thursday.

Gas, power and carbon traders follow gas imports because the supply and demand balance can change prices and traded volumes in all three markets.

Gas statistics also correlate with coal, which competes with gas in the production of electricity, and carbon emissions permits.

German January-May imports amounted to 2.5 billion Terajoules (TJ), or 72.5 billion cubic metres (bcm), compared with 2.3 billion a year earlier, said trade statistics office BAFA, which releases the data with a time lag.

May imports alone totalled 459,347 TJ, up 8% year-on-year.

Importers cut their bills to 8.4 billion euros (7.5 billion pounds) in the five months, paying 31.3% less than a year earlier as a supply glut weighed on market prices.

Average prices paid on the border in May of 2,446.32 euros per TJ, which was equivalent to 0.88 euro cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), were down 42.6% from the same month in 2019.

Average border prices across January-May were down 36.2% year-on-year at 3,315.54 euros/TJ.

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

German gas stocks were at 88% of available storage capacity on Tuesday, European gas infrastructure group GIE’s website showed, compared with 86% a year earlier.

Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by Kirsten Donovan

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