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German Jan-Nov gas import costs surge 131% despite 29% volume drop

FILE PHOTO: Floating LNG terminals in Wilhelmshaven

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German natural gas import costs more than doubled in January-November 2022 over a year earlier, even though imports fell 29%, official monthly data showed on Thursday.

The November statistics from Germany's foreign trade office BAFA are the ninth monthly figures to reflect the impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on market prices.

Europe's biggest economy used to be more reliant on Russian gas than many neighbours, mostly supplied via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline that Russia halted in the crisis, blaming Western sanctions, although Europe says Russia is weaponising energy.

Germany quickly bought more pipeline gas from European neighbours as well as liquefied natural gas (LNG) arriving on board ships, which helped plug gaps, while mild weather curbed demand so that shortages have been avoided.

Energy traders monitor the import numbers because supply and demand affect wholesale prices, while the effects of tight supply have contributed to inflation and triggered fears of a recession.

Gas data also correlates with coal, as both compete in the production of electricity, while also giving clues about demand for mandatory European Union carbon emissions permits.

BAFA's statistics, which are published with a two-month delay, showed January-November imports at 3,294,092 terajoules (TJ), or 93.7 billion cubic metres (bcm), compared with 4,605,580 TJ a year earlier.

Germany's import bill increased to 68.0 billion euros ($73.5 billion) in the eleven months, compared with 29.4 billion euros in the same period of 2021, the data showed.

The average price paid at the border as recorded by BAFA during January to November was up 224% year-on-year at 20,655.41 euros/TJ.

The average import price of 21,267.05 euros/TJ recorded for November alone, equivalent to 7.66 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), was up 73.3% from a year earlier when the price per TJ was 12,272.64 euros.

($1 = 0.9255 euros)

(Reporting by Vera Eckert Editing by Mark Potter)