Global Energy Monitor
  • Greig Aitken, Baird Langenbrunner, and Scott Zimmerman

New research by Global Energy Monitor shows that existing gas import overcapacity in planning across the EU will be exacerbated by new projects that have burst into view in recent weeks, and which various EU member states, the European Commission, and the gas industry are promoting.

GEM’s Europe Gas Tracker shows that as of end-February 2022 the EU was planning a 24.9% capacity increase to 160.2 billion cubic meters per year (bcm/y). The estimated cost of this expansion is €26.4 billion (€14.1 billion for new gas import pipelines, and €12.3 billion for new LNG import terminals). 

The Europe Gas Tracker data show:

  • 16 gas pipelines under construction amount to a total length of 3,200 kilometers (km) and costs of €6.5 billion. Of this, €2.1 billion is allocated to the 613-km Baltic Pipe Project, which is set to increase gas import capacity into the EU by 10 bcm/y from January 1, 2023.
  • 62 proposed gas pipeline projects in the pre-construction phase would stretch 12,500 km and cost an additional €29.7 billion. Of this, €12.1 billion would go toward building 3,600 km of import pipelines and one capacity expansion (the Trans Adriatic Pipeline), increasing gas import capacity into the EU by at least 69.5 bcm/y.
  • There are four LNG import terminals/terminal expansions under construction in the EU with known capacity of 4.3 bcm/y and costing €987 million.
  • 26 proposed LNG import terminals/terminal expansions would add 102.7 bcm/y at a cost of €11.3 billion. This does not include recently announced plans in Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy and the Netherlands to develop floating storage and regasification units (FSRUs), and in Italy to revive two previously shelved LNG terminals.

Based on a conservative estimate of the maximum technical capacity for gas pipeline imports from Russia into the EU (~247 bcm/year), the report also illustrates how there is already sufficient import capacity without relying on piped Russian gas.

A flurry of proposals and speculation about new gas projects across Europe have appeared since the invasion of Ukraine. GEM's survey finds that these projects will add to the EU’s growing surplus of import capacity and make it even more challenging to meet net-zero targets.

The import capacity expansion currently being planned is incompatible not only with EU requirements that gas usage be steeply reduced by 2030 and at odds with the International Energy Agency’s Net Zero by 2050 scenario, but also with new warnings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change about the catastrophic role that methane emissions are playing in the climate crisis.

Greig Aitken, Research analyst

"Europe's problem is not a shortage of gas import capacity but the tightness of global markets. Reducing demand, increasing efficiency and deploying renewables is a sounder strategy than a long-term, multi-billion euro bet on new gas projects."

GEM's European Gas Crisis Tracker provides updates about potential gas projects that have emerged since the start of war in Ukraine.

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