FRANKFURT - Germany imported 22.1% less natural gas in the first four months of 2022 but the cost surged 170% from a year earlier as prices soared, official data from foreign trade office BAFA showed on Thursday.
BAFA releases import data with a two-month delay, so the April statistics are the second to reflect the impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine from Feb. 24 and efforts by European governments to impose sanctions against Moscow over its actions, which the Kremlin calls a "special operation" to disarm its neighbour.
Germany, Europe's biggest economy, mainly imports gas from Russia, Norway, the Netherlands, Britain and Denmark via pipelines.
BAFA's monthly statistics showed January-April imports were 1,465,433 terajoules (TJ), or 41.7 billion cubic metres (bcm), compared with 1,881,423 TJ a year earlier.
As low inventories in winter propelled gas prices to record highs, Germany's import bill increased to 21.9 billion euros ($23.04 billion) in the four-month period, compared with 8.1 billion euros in the same period of 2021.
Gas, power and carbon traders monitor gas imports because the supply and demand balance affects prices and traded volumes in all three markets. [NG/EU][EL/DE]
Gas statistics also correlate with coal, which competes with gas in the production of electricity while also giving clues about demand for mandatory European carbon emissions permits.
The average price paid on the border for January-April was up 246% year on year at 14,918.23 euros/TJ, BAFA said.
The April price alone of 17,941.65 euros was equivalent to 6.46 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh).
German gas stocks are at 59% of available storage capacity, European gas infrastructure group GIE's website showed, compared with 39% a year ago.
($1 = 0.9507 euros)
(Reporting by Vera Eckert,; Editing by Bernadette Baum)