Gas consumption in Portugal fell by 19.6%, to 12.9 TWh (terawatts/hour), in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2022, the Energy Services Regulatory Entity ( ERSE).
According to the ERSE Gas Infrastructure Use Bulletin, “accumulated gas consumption in Portugal, up to the end of March 2023, has been 12.9 TWh (12.4 TWh, excluding the networks supplied by the Autonomous Units of Gas), 19.6% less than in the same period of the previous year”.
According to the regulator, “this decrease in gas consumption is especially visible in gas power plants for the production of electricity, whose consumption was around 4.3 TWh in the first quarter of 2023, which corresponds to a reduction of 39 .4% compared to the same period of 2022”.
“Reduce the consumption of gas power plants It is associated with the high production of renewable energies (wind, solar and hydraulic)57% more in 2023 compared to 2022″, he explains and adds that, although “in a less expressive way”, the consumption of gas from the distribution networks “also contributed to this reduction (-7.4%)”.
European natural gas falls to the lowest level since June 2021
At the end of the first quarter, the hydraulic index stood at 0.95 (0.30 in the first quarter of 2022) and the wind productivity index at 0.93, while the solar productivity index was 1.14 . In total, until March the production of renewable energies supplied around 73% of national consumption.
Regarding gas consumption in the industrial segment (high pressure), it was 2.2 TWh in the first quarter of this year, which corresponds to an increase of 9.9% compared to the same period in 2022.
As ERSE points out, “this period is marked by the fact that current gas prices are around a third below the prices observed during the autumn of 2022 and quite far from the historical maximum of 330 euros/MWh [megawatts/hora] registered in August 2022”.
Regarding the consumption of gas for the production of electricity, “it was only down about 1% compared to the average of the previous five years”.
According to ERSE, “the LNG terminal [gás natural liquefeito] Sines was the main infrastructure for the entry of natural gas into the GSN [Sistema Nacional de Gás]”, representing around 11.4 TWh in March and 87% of the natural gas imported and injected into the National Gas Distribution Network (RNTG).
“The Sines LNG Terminal carried out 11 methane tanker unloading operations”explains, noting that the LNG reception was 10.4 TWh.
The gas received at that LNG terminal came from different sources, with emphasis on the US (six methane tankers), Nigeria (four) and Russia (one).
In the first quarter of 2023, the utilization rate of LNG regasification capacity in Portugal stood at 63% (eighth highest in Europe) and, “in homologous terms, this value was 92%” and, ” in 8% of the days, regasification reached more than 90% of the available capacity”.
In addition to regasification for RNTG, the LNG Terminal offers other services, such as tank loading. In the first quarter, 1,652 LNG tanks were filled, corresponding to 489 GWh (gigawatts/hour).
In the same bulletin, and with regard to underground gas storage, ERSE points out that the stock of gas stored in Portugal, in caves located in the Leiria region, amounted to 106% of the firm commercial capacity available as of March 31, “which is equivalent to 25 days of national average consumption”.
At the end of 2022, the Portuguese government announced the creation of additional strategic gas reserves, including the construction of two new gas storage caverns. The project is described in the RNTIAT Ten-Year Indicative Development and Investment Plan for the period 2024-2033 (PDIRG 2023), currently under public discussion.
At a European level, the value of gas stored in caves reached 56% on March 31, 2023, highlighting ERSE that “this period of the year usually corresponds to the minimum of European storage, after the end of the cold season”.