European Union natural-gas consumption declined 1.1% last year because of warm weather, higher gas prices and improved energy efficiency, an industry group said.
EU gas consumption fell to 407.7 million tons of oil equivalent in 2006 from 412.4 million tons the previous year, according to Eurogas. The preliminary estimate excludes Romania and Bulgaria, which joined the EU this year and expanded the bloc to 27 member states. „The last months of 2006 were extremely mild,” Brussels-based Eurogas said in a statement yesterday. „Another impact on the consumption, at least in most countries, results from the reduced competitiveness of natural gas in power generation, because of generally higher gas prices in 2006 coupled with a low cost of carbon. In some countries, higher energy efficiency also played a part.” Gas consumption fell 5% in the UK, 3.1% in France, 2.1% in Italy and 6.6% in Austria – the biggest decline of any member state, said Eurogas. Germany, the EU's largest economy, bucked the trend, posting a 1.4% increase because of a stronger economy, as did Spain with a 4.1% rise „due exclusively to the power generation demand,” the group said. (Bloomberg)