Gas consumption in the EU-27 in the first quarter of 2021 rose by 7.6% year on year to 141.8 Bcm, the European Commission said in its most recent quarterly gas market report, APA-Economics reports citing S&P Global.
EU gas demand was boosted by a number of cold spells in the quarter, which impacted gas consumption for residential heating needs, and by a 3.4% increase in gas use for power generation.
"In the first quarter of 2021 gas consumption in the EU was higher than in the same months of 2020, and closer to the upper range of the last five years," the EC said.
It added that the "widespread" practice of remote working might also have contributed to the overall increase in gas consumption in the residential sector.
Gas demand rose in 22 of the EU member countries, with Spain the only large gas consumer to register a decrease.
Among the biggest gas consuming countries, demand rose in Germany by 11% -- or 3.4 Bcm -- in Q1, in the Netherlands by 10% (1.4 Bcm), in France by 6% (0.9 Bcm), and in Italy by 5% (1.2 Bcm).
The quarterly market report excludes the UK -- which left the EU at the end of January 2020 -- in both absolute terms and for year-on-year comparisons.
Despite the fall in production and rise in demand, imports also fell in Q1, with total net extra-EU gas imports totaling 78.5 Bcm, down 3% year on year.
The drop implies that the majority of the demand increases in the quarter were met by EU storage, with sites across Europe significantly drawn down in the first months of 2021.