When Russian natural gas supplies to Europe dropped dramatically in the wake of the Ukraine-Russia conflict, Europeans and their governments wondered how they could remain warm through the coming winter. After all, Russian natural gas constituted 40 percent of the European Union's total supply. The only near-term solutions were to cut natural gas consumption and import more liquefied natural gas (LNG). But with a limited ability to accept LNG, cuts in consumption seemed inevitable.
While some industrial facilities temporarily closed due to high gas prices and some companies said they were relocating gas-intensive production outside Europe, much of the reduction in natural gas consumption was due to the mild winter weather and the reduction in use by households. (Some of reduction was due to fuel switching as electric utilities substituted coal for natural gas though the numbers have yet to be compiled.) As a result, prices of natural gas in Europe (using Dutch TTF Gas Futures as a proxy) fell by 80 percent from the end of September until now. Europe avoided the worst.
Last year Europe as a whole decreased its natural gas consumption by 13 percent, a hefty decline. Its use over the recent winter declined by 19 percent from the 5-year average.