Spanish gas imports in December increased by 14.4%, supported by LNG shipments

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February 9 (Reuters)Spain’s imports of natural gas in December were up 14.4% year-on-year, driven by an increase in liquefied natural gas (LNG) purchases, according to government data released on Wednesday.

Spain imported 38,572 gigawatt hours (GWh) of natural gas in December, according to data from Cores, a branch of the Ministry of Energy and Environment. In 2021, net gas imports increased by 8.1% compared to the previous year.

Europe’s gas imports and reserves have grown in importance in recent months as tensions with Russia have risen, exacerbating a supply shortage that has driven electricity prices to record highs .

“The forecast tells us that over the next few months electricity prices will continue to rise,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in an interview with online newspaper, indicating that gas tensions were cause of high energy costs.

In December, Russian gas accounted for just under 11% of Spanish imports, according to data from Cores. Algeria remained the main supplier with 26.9% of imports, even after the North African country closed a gas pipeline in November that carries natural gas to Spain via Morocco.

Spanish LNG shipments jumped 58.7% to account for more than two-thirds of imports, while pipeline imports fell 33.8%.

Earlier this month, the global head of management control at electricity and gas group Naturgy NTGY.MC said it was unclear whether Spain’s LNG import capacity could be used to help manage any European gas shortages if Russia were to cut off supplies.

Spain operates six of the regasification plants needed to take delivery of liquefied natural gas and return it to a form that can be used as fuel, more than any other European country.

(Reporting by Aida Pelaez Fernandez; Editing by Nathan Allen and Louise Heavens)

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