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Gas consumption in Spain fell by 10.5% in 2009

Source: Reuters - Wed 20th Jan 2010

Gas consumption in import-dependent Spain in 2009 fell by 10.5 percent from the year before to 34.5 billion cubic metres due mainly to the recession, industry association Sedigas said on Wednesday. "The rise in renewable energy consumption has also been a noteworthy factor," a Sedigas statement said.

National grid operator REE has estimated that gas-fired plants' share of Spain's generation mix last year fell to 29 percent from 32 percent in 2008.

The number of gas-fired plants in service rose by one in 2009 to 55, however, Sedigas said, because they back up demand for power when renewables cannot generate enough electricity.

Spain cannot import enough electricity from France to offset sudden drops in wind power due to a lack of power lines across the Pyrenees, so gas-burning generators have to be ready to start up when wind parks are becalmed.

Conversely, Spain cannot export surplus power northwards, so gas-fired plants have to halt on windy days.

SSpain has to import more than 99 percent of its gas needs and Sedigas noted that it bought gas from 11 different markets. Algeria accounted for the biggest share (34 percent), followed by Nigeria (14 percent). Liquefied natural gas, of which Spain is the world's third biggest importer, accounted for 74 percent of imports, with the remainder arriving in pipelines.

Sedigas tallied 471 LNG tankers which discharged at Spain's six regasification plants in 2009, but gave no comparative figures.

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