The working natural gas inventories in Europe at the end of March 2021 are reported to be the third-lowest known in 11 years of publicly available storage data, with the lowest reported level for the end-of-season for March noted in 2018, at 620 bcf.
Working natural gas inventories in Europe as of March 31, 2021 (the traditional end of the winter heating season) summed up to 1,087 bcf (31% capacity), based on data from Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE). This year’s end-of-season inventories from Europe were 11% (133 bcf) lower than the previous five-year (2016‒2020) average and 44% lower than the record-high storage levels from 2020.
Europe’s natural gas inventories entered the winter heating season in November 2020 at a 95% capacity - the second-highest end-of-injection season storage level in Europe in more than a decade — but declined in January and February 2021 because of intense periods of cold weather.
As the European natural gas pipeline grid is not fully integrated between northern and southern parts, countries rely on domestic natural gas storage and LNG imports to meet demand, especially in the winter.
Domestic natural gas storage in several countries quickly got depleted, so additional flexible natural gas supplies, including imports of liquefied natural gas, were needed to meet demand. LNG imports in Europe have been increasing since February 2021, according to the GIE reports. The US played a major role in supplying the recent increase in LNG imports to Europe, being the world’s largest supplier of flexible LNG volumes.