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An employee of GASCADE Gastransport GmbH walks among steel pipe stacks ahead of the Eugal natural gas pipeline construction, near Golssen, Germany, on August 29, 2018. Photo: Sean Gallup via Getty Images

Since 2015, Europe's natural gas market has shown strong demand growth driven by economic recovery, an increasingly gas-reliant power sector and unseasonable weather patterns that have increased the continent's heating and cooling needs.

The big picture Recent trends suggest the market is not only growing but also diversifying its suppliers, routes and delivery forms. There's considerable push for further liberalization to provide greater transparency and market-based pricing, features that attract competition and increase exporter interest. The growth thus provides a way to both decarbonize Europe's economy and fortify its energy security.

Several developments from just the beginning of September underscore this trend:

  1. Liquefied nature gas (LNG) markets and infrastructure are expanding. The French LNG Terminal Montoir has received record-level shipments; the Polish LNG Terminal just celebrated its 40th cargo delivery ; and the prospects of a new LNG terminal opening toward the end of 2022 in northern Germany seem better than ever.
  2. Pipeline gas is not giving way. Russian company Gazprom is proceeding to lay a controversial pipeline in Finland’s part of the Baltic Sea, and another of its pipelines is roughly 80% ready to begin funneling gas to Turkey. Meanwhile, Poland is pushing for the Baltic Pipe from Norway, where general interest in drilling is surging and where Poland's PGNiG is planning to undertake exploratory offshore drilling.
  3. Turkey continues to position itself as a natural gas hub for Europe. Besides its strong support for new LNG and pipeline infrastructure, including Gazprom's, Turkey remains committed to gas market liberalization in the hopes of attracting more trade activity by launching spot day-ahead pricing.

The bottom line: The combination of growth and diversification is good news for both the new market players, such as the U.S. and Qatari LNG exporters, and for Russia, which has been wary of changing natural gas market dynamics and its loosening hold as Europe's dominant natural gas provider. European importers, which stand to benefit from an increasingly competitive environment, should also welcome the news.

Anna Mikulska is a nonresident fellow in energy studies at Rice University’s Baker Institute's Center for Energy Studies and a senior fellow at the University of Pennsylvania's Kleinman Center for Energy Policy.

Go deeper

Scoop: Ukraine gives U.S. senators specific asks on Russia sanctions, military aid

Zelensky. Photo: John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

The chairman of Ukraine's parliament has sent a letter to eight U.S. senators outlining four specific requests for security assistance and sanctions that Kyiv believes will help deter a Russian invasion, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The Ukrainian government is leaning on Congress — and a bipartisan group of senators negotiating compromise language on sanctions that could pass the Senate — in an effort to push the U.S. posture beyond the Biden administration's approach.

Updated 1 hour ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a powerful and potentially historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring an array of hazards, from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten coastal property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Republican-led Pennsylvania court deems mail-in voting law unconstitutional

Workers count ballots for the 2020 Presidential election at the Philadelphia Convention Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Nov. 3, 2020. Photo: Hannah Yoon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Republican-led Pennsylvania court on Friday ruled that the state's mail-in voting law is unconstitutional.

Driving the news: Three Republican judges sided with Republican challengers and ruled that no-excuse mail-in voting is prohibited under the state's constitution. Two Democrats on the panel dissented.