Exports to Italy and France rose by 14.1% and 15.1% respectively, to Poland and Germany by 18.6% and 43.4% and exports more than tripled to Romania and Turkey.
The rise in exports was facilitated by a bitter winter – in European terms.
According to the German meteorological service, (DWD), in 2021, the average January temperature was 2.7 degrees Celsius lower than a year earlier and the average February temperature a full 3.5 degrees lower.
The difference during the three spring months was 2 degrees (7.2 degrees instead of 9.2 in 2020) – and April was the coldest experienced over the past 40 years. As a result, from January to April 2021, 34 % more gas was removed from European underground storage areas compared to a year earlier (54.1 billion cu.m. compared to 40.4 billion cu.m., according to data from Gas Infrastructure Europe).
Demand for gas was spurred on by a recovery in European industry: from January to June, the PMI Manufacturing Index rose in the European Union from 54.8 to 63.4 points (the fact the 50 mark was breached provided evidence of increased production in processing industries). This was in sharp contrast to the first half of 2020, when against a background of a warm winter and the imposition of COVID restrictions, six major European countries (Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands andSpain) saw an 8 % decline in gas demand year-on-year (to 86.2 billion cu.m., according to Argus Media),
Gazprom is expected to continue boosting exports in the coming months, given that holding levels in European gas storage areas lag behind last year’s timetable. While on 1st July 2020, storage areas were 80.5% filled to capacity – this level now stands at 47.6%.
The further recovery of the European economy could also help.
In the third and fourth quarters of 2021, according to a forecast by IHS Markit, GDP growth in Europe will reach 2.1% and 3.9% respectively, compared to figures recorded last year of negative growth of 4% and 4.7% in the same two quarters.