Gas consumption begins to fall in France

Posted Apr 27, 2022 5:11pmUpdated April 27, 2022 at 7:01 p.m

weather effect? Putin effect? In France, gas consumption has fallen sharply since the beginning of the year. In the first four months of 2022 (as of April 24), demand fell by 15 terawatt hours compared to the corresponding period in 2021, according to figures from GRTgaz, France’s largest gas pipeline operator. That is 8% less in one year and even 10% less in March alone, which was marked by the start of the war in Ukraine.

It is currently still difficult to establish a clear link with the price increase caused by the conflict, as the factors do not all work in the same direction. First, temperatures in the first quarter were warmer than a year earlier, reducing gas consumption for building heating. French households have been largely shielded from rising prices as gas prices have been falling since Janah last October.

Gas-fired power plants were used as reinforcement

Conversely, gas demand for power generation, which accounts for just under 10% of the total, is higher than usual: +26% in Q1. French gas-fired power plants ran at full capacity throughout the winter to compensate for the low availability of the nuclear fleet, penalized by the shutdown of many reactors due to cascading technical problems and a poor contribution from wind turbines due to stronger winds.

The trend is clearest among industrial customers because it is independent of the weather. They account for 28% of gas consumption and, unlike private individuals, have not been protected from rising prices this winter.

Their gas demand fell by 9% in the first quarter, according to GRTgaz, which offers a number of explanations: “Economic slowdown, high energy and commodity prices, supply difficulties compounded by the war in Ukraine…”.

Refinery, automotive and metallurgy

Refineries, hurt by the rise in oil prices, used 35% less gas compared to a year ago. Refineries use natural gas to produce hydrogen to reduce the sulfur content of fuels. The automotive sector saw consumption fall by 18% due to supply difficulties for electronic components and higher raw material prices.

The metallurgical sector is also being penalized and its gas consumption has fallen by 15%. Chemicals is another affected sector. Some manufacturers of ammonia for fertilizers even had to stop production temporarily because they cannot pass the increased gas costs on to their sales prices.

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