Natural gas consumption in 28 European Union countries increased by 4%, to 426.3 billion cube m in 2015, according to the European Union's Gas Industry (Eurogas). This is the first annual increase for the last four years. In 2014 gas consumption in the EU fallen to the levels seen nearly 20 years earlier, and imported cheap coal has reduced the share of gas in the energy market. According to Eurogas, the overall growth of gas consumption in the past year was associated with an increase in imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG). In annual terms LNG imports increased by a third in Italy and almost two times - in the Netherlands. In 2015 there was a decrease in spot prices for LNG relative to 2014. Another factor influenced the demand has become the weather. The demand for gas for residential sector heating has increased in several European countries including Germany. Capacity of the gas networks has sustained fluctuations in the demand for fuel, according to Eurogas report. The Association noted that gas heating has easily adapted to the current level of demand. Production of gas is more stable than production of renewables, and gas can replace them if necessary.
In addition to the weather, Eurogas notes the other reasons for the growth of gas consumption. There was the restoration of economic growth in France, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia in the last year. Thus demand for gas from industrial enterprises has been increased. For example, consumption of LNG by transport sector of the Czech Republic increased by 46%, and a significant increase was not only due to the low base effect. However, gas consumption has continued to decline in the industry of other countries. Reducing the cost of gas has led to an increase in its use in power generation in the UK. At the same time Italy and Greece required more energy for use of air conditioning in summer last year than in 2014. However, cheap coal is still robs gas share in the energy market of the Netherlands, Germany, and Ireland. However, the Netherlands is the only country among the six largest EU gas markets, where its consumption has declined (-0.8%). Gas consumption has increased in Germany, Italy, UK, France, and Spain, although the increase was less significant in the United Kingdom. In 2015 gas consumption increased most of all in Slovenia (+ 22.5%) and Portugal (+ 11.7%). On the contrary, gas consumption decreased most of all in Estonia (-23.1%) and Finland (-10.8%). As it is noted by Eurogas, gas consumption in Finland was negatively affected by the change of the tax.