Argus Media Limited

02/09/2024 | News release | Distributed by Public on 02/09/2024 12:33

Finnish, Baltic January gas demand soars on cold

Gas consumption across all three Baltic states and Finland in January soared to its highest for any month in more than two years, as an extreme cold snap gripped the region for the first three weeks.

Consumption across Finland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia totalled 7.13TWh, by far the highest for any month since December 2021 and well above 5.25TWh in the previous month (see data and download).

Overnight lows across the region's four capitals reached as low as minus 27°C in Helsinki, minus 20°C in Tallinn and Riga and minus 21°C in Vilnius over the month. Minimum temperatures were far below the long-term norm in the first three weeks of January, before returning to normal in the final week (see temperature table).

Lithuanian demand was the highest of the four countries, topping 2.4TWh in January. While one unit of ammonia producer Achema's Jonava complex remains closed, the other continues to operate, consuming about 20 GWh/d, Argus understands. And the cold weather drove up Lithuanian gas-fired power generation to an average of 199MW, above 153MW in December and only 46MW in January 2023, data from European system operators' association Entso-E show (see gas-fired power generation table). This was the highest for any month since September 2021. Higher gas-fired power was generated despite Lithuanian wind output reaching a record average of 505MW. But power imports still dominated the Lithuanian supply mix at roughly 48pc.

Similarly in Finland, gas-fired power generation hit its highest for any month since December 2021, at 346MW, up from 293MW the previous month and 226MW in January 2023. Sendout from the 3.9mn t/yr Inkoo LNG terminal jumped to an all-time high of 134GWh on 4 January, when temperatures in some parts of the country dropped to as low as minus 40°C. Finnish system operator Gasgrid Finland even purchased an exceptional 100GWh LNG cargo from Gasum to balance the system and mitigate the risk of a supply shortage. Consumption of just under 131GWh on 4 January was the highest for any day since 21 December 2021 (see data and download). To further bolster supply to Finland later in the month, Equinor delivered the largest-ever reload from Lithuania's Klaipeda LNG terminal to Inkoo.

Latvia's gas demand is driven mostly by the large combined-heat-and-power plants (CHPs) operated by state utility Latvenergo. Latvian gas-fired generation more than doubled, to 551MW, from 244MW in December and 230MW in January 2023. It was the highest for any month in at least three years.

Cold returns this month

Extreme cold has returned to the region in recent days, driving consumption higher again.

While temperatures were roughly normal across the region in the first week of February, they have dropped significantly in the past two days. In Helsinki, minimum temperatures sank to nearly minus 24°C on 8 February, while in Tallinn they reached minus 9°C.

Latvia's demand rose to 68GWh on 8 February, from 44 GWh/d on 1-7 February, while in Estonia it rose to 24GWh from 17 GWh/d over the same period. While no prompt Finnish demand data are published, sendout from Inkoo jumped to 95GWh, from 53 GWh/d on 1-7 February. Lithuanian operator Amber Grid has not published consumption data since 4 February.

The cold snap is expected to continue for the next few days, with perceived temperatures in Helsinki of minus 22°C on 10 February and still minus 15°C on 12 February. But temperatures are expected to normalise from 13 February onwards, rising to about or slightly below freezing.

By Brendan A'Hearn

Finnish, Baltic average gas-fired power generation MW
Jan-24 Jan-23 Dec-23 ± Jan 23 ± Dec 23
Estonia 6 7 6 -1 0
Latvia 551 230 244 321 307
Lithuania 199 46 153 153 46
Finland 346 226 293 120 53
Total 1,102 509 696 593 406
- Entso-E
Daily average minimum temperature in FinBalt capitals °C
Jan-24 Jan-23 Dec-23 ± yr/yr ± m/m 2014-23 Jan avg
Tallinn -8.82 -2.24 -3.99 -6.58 -4.83 -3.84
Riga -6.34 -0.79 -1.38 -5.55 -4.96 -2.74
Vilnius -6.51 -1.34 -1.47 -5.17 -5.04 -4.29
Helsinki -12.62 -3.55 -7.68 -9.07 -4.94 -6.41
- Speedwell
January consumption by countryGWh