Gas Market

In Italy, 2012 closes with natural gas consumption undergoing the second consecutive reduction, down to 74,372 million m3 (787.1 TWh), a decrease of 4.2% compared to 2011. Consumption in the thermoelectric sector, which decreased to 24,418 million m3, is clearly down (-12.2%). Changes in consumption are more moderate in the industrial sector, which stood at 13,379 million m3 (-1.5%) and in the civil sector, at 33,889 million m3 (+0.5%). Exports, reaching 2,686 million m3, increased by 6.6%. 9,328 million m3 was injected into storage systems (+4.0%). On the supply side, national production, at 8,277 million m3, was up 2.8%, while natural gas imports, at 67,596 million m3, were down by 4.1%. The drop in gas purchases from abroad involved all entry points, except for Gela (+175.9%), which was blocked from the end of March to halfway through October 2011 due to the civil war in Libya. 7,827 million m3 was supplied from storage systems (-3.0%).

In terms of the European energy markets, after two years of sudden growth, in 2012 oil listings remained in line with the values of 2011, also confirming the decoupling of the continental and US reference prices, which emerged in 2011.

In particular, the Brent stood at around 112 $/barrel, with a fluctuating trend during the year that brought prices to their annual high of 125 $/barrel in March, before a rapid drop to around 95 $/barrel in June and a subsequent recovery which culminated in August at around 113 $/barrel, the value around which listings remained during the last four months of the year.

Dated Brent price trend


In this context, there was a consistent loss in the power of the euro compared to the US dollar: in fact, we must go back to 2006 to find a EUR/USD exchange rate which is lower than the value observed in 2012, equal to 1.29 €/$ (-7.6%). The depreciation favours a decisive upward revision of fuel prices converted into euro, resulting in an exacerbation in the annual changes in oil and oil products (+8/13%) and a limitation of the, in any case significant, reduction in coal (-17.9%).