EU imports of energy products - recent developments
Data extracted in June 2021.
Planned article update: 26 October 2021.
Crude oil largely dominated the EU imports in energy products in 2020 with a share of 73 % , followed by natural gas with 15 %.
In 2020, Russia remained the largest supplier of natural gas and petroleum oils to the EU.
This article provides a picture of trade in energy products between the European Union (EU) and the rest of the world (extra EU trade), and between the Member States (intra-EU trade). Special focus is given to Russia as the main supplier of petroleum oils and natural gas to the EU. Coal, lignite, peat and coke are the other key energy products considered hereafter.
Annual data from 2016 to 2020 are included, thus reflecting the most recent developments. Priority was given to trade in value (expressed in millions of euros) and net mass (weight without packaging expressed in tonnes). Supplementary information like trade in terajoules for natural gas can be found in Eurostat databases.
This article is part of an online publication providing recent statistics on international trade in goods, covering information on the EU's main partners, main products traded, specific characteristics of trade as well as background information.
The latest figures show the upward trend of the energy bill from 2016 to 2018 reversing in 2019 and dropping substantially in 2020. (Figure 1). The average monthly value of imports in energy products rose from EUR 15.8 billion per month in 2016 to EUR 24.7 billion per month in 2018 but fell to EUR 14.4 billion in 2020. The development of the volume of energy products fluctuated less, it was highest in 2018 (71.2 million tonnes) and lowest in 2020 (63.2 million tonnes).
Main suppliers of natural gas and petroleum oils to the EU
Crude oil is by far the largest imported energy product (73.1 % of total EU energy imports in 2020) ahead of natural gas in gaseous state (15.1 %), as shown in Figure 2. For crude oil this was 2.1 percentage points more than in 2019. The share of natural gas in gaseous states decreased by 3.0 pp while the share of liquefied natural gas increased by 2.0 pp. The share of coal decreased by 0.8 pp.
Russia was the largest supplier of natural gas to the EU, both in 2019 and 2020 (Figure 3 and Map 1); the only other partners with a significant share in total extra EU imports were Norway and, at some distance Algeria. The global share of all the other countries exporting natural gas to the EU was 20.2 % in 2019 and 24.6 % in 2020 in terms of trade value.
As can be seen in Figure 4 and Map 2, Russia was less dominant in petroleum oils than in natural gas but still far ahead of the second largest supplier, the United States. They were followed by Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Norway and Saudi Arabia. The share of the top six decreased from 67.7 % in 2019 to 67.3 % in 2020.
Trend in extra EU imports of energy products
The EU imports of natural gas from Russia and the rest of the world, expressed in value and net mass, are shown in Figure 5. Between 2016 and 2018 there was an increase in imports from Russia, falling in 2019 and especially in 2020 both in net mass and in value. For other countries the value increased between 2016 and 2018 even though the net mass decreased. In 2019 and 2020 the opposite happened, value was decreasing while net mass increased.
For petroleum oils, the trend of total extra EU imports in value is largely similar to the trend observed for natural gas (see Figure 6). Between 2016 and 2018 there was an increase in imports from Russia, falling in 2019 and especially in 2020 both in net mass and in value. For other countries the trend was similar to that of Russia, but the drops in 2019 and 2020 were no so large..
Figure 7 shows the share in total EU imports of the key energy products considered in this article. This share was 11.8 % in 2016, rising to 15.5 % in 2018 before dropping to 10.1 % in 2020.The lion's share of imports of energy products comes from petroleum oils whose share is almost three times as much as for natural gas and more than seventeen times as much as for solid fuels in 2020.
When considering only the EU imports from Russia, the share of the key energy products was 3.1 % in 2020 (Figure 8), which was more than 1 pp lower than in 2016 (4.3 %). It had been as high as 5.3% in 2018.
Energy imports to the EU from Russia as a share of total imports to the EU from Russia decreased by 5.5 percentage points from 60.8 % in 2016 to 55.3 % in 2020 (see Figure 9). In this period the share for petroleum oils fell sharply in 2020 while the shares for natural gas and solid fuels remained stable from 2019 to 2020.
Member States' trade in petroleum oils and natural gas
Table 1 shows the share of each Member State in extra EU imports of petroleum oils and natural gas. Note that only interval information is provided in order to avoid revealing confidential figures. The redistribution of imports among the Member States after import into the EU, as measured by intra-EU trade, is not considered. Six Member States: Germany, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland have shares of more than 5 % in total extra EU imports for both petroleum oils and natural gas in 2020. Three of those, Germany, the Netherlands and Poland have shares of more than 5 % in total imports from Russia for both products. Finland's share for Russia in total extra EU imports is above 5% for petroleum oils. For natural gas this is the case for Italy and Austria.
In four Member States (Estonia, Slovakia, Hungary and Finland), more than 75 % of their imports in petroleum oils came from Russia (Table 2). Ten Member States (Bulgaria, Czechia, Estonia, Latvia, Hungary, Austria, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia and Finland) imported more than 75 % of their natural gas imports from Russia. In both cases, these are predominantly countries that are in close proximity to Russia. Most of the countries with shares below 25 % of imports from Russia in either product are further away from Russia.
By combining tables 1 and 2 we are able to check the dependency on Russia for the largest importers of petroleum oils and natural gas in the EU. For petroleum oils, the largest importers from the extra EU were Germany, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands (all between 10 % and 20 %) in 2020. Of those, the share of Russia in national imports was less than 25 % for Spain and Italy and between 25 % and 50 % for the Netherlands and Germany.
For natural gas the largest importers were Germany, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland. Of those five the share of Russia was less than 25 % for Spain, France and the Netherlands, between 25 % and 50 % for Italy and between 50 % and 75 % for Germany and Poland.
Part of the petroleum oils and natural gas imported from Russia and elsewhere is also traded in the EU Internal Market. Table 3 gives some indicative figures for this effect, but no indication is given of the origin of the energy products that are subsequently part of intra-EU trade flows. The shares of imports of petroleum oils are between 0-5 % for all but three of the 27 EU Member States. The exceptions were Belgium and Germany, with shares of more than 20 % and the Netherlands with 5-10 %. For natural gas, Germany (more than 20 %) and France (between 10 % and 20 %), were the exceptions. For intra-EU exports of petroleum oils only the Netherlands (more than 20 %) and Cyprus (5-10%) had a share above 5 % while for natural gas there were four exceptions: Germany, the Netherlands (both more than 20 %), France and Belgium (both 5-10 %).
Source data for tables and graphs
The excel file below contains all figures and tables shown in the article as well as the detailed tables referred to in the text.
Trade in energy products being very sensitive, real trade figures may need to be made confidential. In the context of this article, Eurostat has carried out some estimation in order to provide more accurate information while not disclosing confidential figures. Note that those estimated data cannot be retrieved from Eurostat databases or found in other publications. When going through the figures, it should also be kept in mind that confidentiality treatments may impact the data consistency. In particular, total values may slightly diverge from the sum of their subcomponents.
EU data is taken from Eurostat's COMEXT database. COMEXT is the reference database for international trade in goods. It provides access not only to both recent and historical data from the EU Member States but also to statistics of a significant number of third countries. International trade aggregated and detailed statistics disseminated via the Eurostat website are compiled from COMEXT data according to a monthly process.
Data are collected by the competent national authorities of the Member States and compiled according to a harmonised methodology established by EU regulations before transmission to Eurostat. For extra EU trade, the statistical information is mainly provided by the traders on the basis of customs declarations.
EU data are compiled according to Community guidelines and may, therefore, differ from national data published by the Member States. Statistics on extra EU trade are calculated as the sum of trade of each of the 27 EU Member States with countries outside the EU. In other words, the EU is considered as a single trading entity and trade flows are measured into and out of the area, but not within it.
The United Kingdom is considered as an extra-EU partner country for the EU for the whole period covered by this article. However, the United Kingdom was still part of the internal market until the end of the transitory period (31 December 2020), meaning that data on trade with the United Kingdom are still based on statistical concepts applicable to trade between the EU Member States. Consequently, while imports from any other extra-EU trade partner are grouped by country of origin, the United Kingdom data reflect the country of consignment. In practice this means that the goods imported by the EU from the United Kingdom were physically transported from the United Kingdom but part of these goods could have been of other origin than the United Kingdom. For this reason, data on trade with the United Kingdom are not fully comparable with data on trade with other extra-EU trade partners. Energy products This article analyses the EU imports of the following energy products, as classified according to the Combined Nomenclature (CN):
- 27090010: Petroleum oils from natural gas condensates;
- 27090090: Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude;
- 27111100: Natural gas, liquefied;
- 27112100: Natural gas in gaseous state;
- 2701: Coal;
- 2702: Lignite;
- 2703: Peat; and
- 2704: Coke.
To give a full picture of the EU trade in energy products, it should be noted that Chapter 27 of the Combined Nomenclature (mineral fuels, mineral oils) contains more products than the ones considered in this article.
Petroleum oils correspond to the aggregation of the CN8 codes 27090010: Petroleum oils from natural gas condensates and 27090090: Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude.
Natural gas corresponds to the aggregation of the CN8 codes 27111100: Natural gas, liquefied and 27112100: Natural gas in gaseous state.
Data sources This article is based on data available in Eurostat database (COMEXT) and on Eurostat estimation. Those data are issued from the European concept and definitions as set up by the EU legislation. Figures estimated by Eurostat cannot be found in Comext nor in other Eurostat databases or publications.
Note that data collected on the basis of Regulation (EC) No 1099/2008 relating to energy statistics are not considered in this article. More information on those statistics can be found in the Energy Dedicated Section. With regards to imports and exports of energy products, there are methodological reasons for differences between figures from energy statistics and figures presented in this article originating from international trade in goods statistics (ITGS):
- The sources for ITGS are the Intrastat declarations for intra-EU trade and the customs declarations for extra EU trade. Additional data sources like data from national grid operators can also be used for natural gas and electricity. The sources for energy statistics are special statistical surveys, administrative data and estimations.
- In ITGS the partner country is the country of consignment for intra EU imports and the country of origin for extra EU imports. In energy statistics the partner country is the country of origin for both intra- and extra EU imports.
- Imports and exports are available in quantities and values broken down by partner in ITGS while only the quantities without partner breakdown are available in energy statistics.
- In ITGS the value is collected or estimated (estimation based on collected invoice value or, for natural gas and electricity, on additional data sources) while in energy statistics the value is not collected but estimated using quantities and retail prices.
Units of measure
- Trade values correspond to the statistical value, i.e. to the amount which would be invoiced in case of sale or purchase at the national border of the reporting country. It is called a FOB value (free on board) for exports and a CIF value (cost, insurance, freight) for imports.
- Quantities correspond to the net mass, i.e. to the mass without any packaging. Note that values of 0 or 0.0 mean very small values.
- A bias in the geographical allocation of extra EU flows — Extra EU imports and exports are reported by the Member State where the customs declaration is lodged, usually the place where the goods cross the EU external frontier (here referred to as the exit/entry Member State). This is not necessarily the Member State of actual import or export. The geographical allocation of an extra EU flow is biased in the case the entry/exit Member State is not the actual importing/exporting Member State. In such a case, the extra EU trade will be allocated to the entry/exit Member State and the actual importing/exporting Member State will report only intra-EU flows with the exit/entry Member State. This issue particularly impacts the extra EU imports of Member States having important ports for transshipment of goods like Antwerp in Belgium and Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
- Missing EU data — This article is mostly based on collected data (confidential and non-confidential). Wherever necessary, estimates for missing indicators have been compiled on the basis of other available indicators and EU averages for similar trade. Because of confidentiality, total values may differ from the sum of individual components.
- Trade and consumption — This article focuses on imports and exports of energy products and does not consider EU domestic energy production. Part of the energy products consumed in the EU is produced in the EU. According to energy statistics, in 2014, 33 % of natural gas consumption was supplied from a source within the EU. Similarly about 54 % of coal (all coals) and about 13 % of oil (crude oil and all petroleum products) consumed in the EU was supplied from a source within the EU.
Having a secure supply of energy is crucial for the well-being of European citizens and the economy. The EU works to ensure that energy supplies are uninterrupted and energy prices remain stable.
In response to the political crisis in Ukraine and the overall importance of a stable and abundant supply of energy for the EU's citizens and economy, the European Commission released an EU energy security strategy on 28 May 2014.
This strategy is based on an in-depth study of Member States' energy dependence and addresses medium and long-term security of supply challenges.
- International trade in goods (t_ext_go), see:
- International trade in goods - long-term indicators (t_ext_go_lti)
- International trade in goods - short-term indicators (t_ext_go_sti)
- International trade in goods (ext_go), see:
- International trade in goods - aggregated data (ext_go_agg)
- International trade in goods - long-term indicators (ext_go_lti)
- International trade in goods - short-term indicators (ext_go_sti)
- International trade in goods - detailed data (detail)
- International trade in goods statistics - background
- International trade in goods (ESMS metadata file — ext_go_agg_esms)
- User guide on European statistics on international trade in goods
- Regulation (EC) No 1099/2008 of 22 October 2008 on energy statistics
- Regulation (EC) No 471/2009 of 6 May 2009 on Community statistics relating to external trade with non-member countries
- Summaries of EU Legislation: Extrastat: statistics relating to trade with non-EU countries
- Regulation (EU) No 92/2010 of 2 February 2010 implementing Regulation (EC) No 471/2009, as regards data exchange between customs authorities and national statistical authorities, compilation of statistics and quality assessment
- Regulation (EU) No 113/2010 of 9 February 2010 implementing Regulation (EC) No 471/2009 , as regards trade coverage, definition of the data, compilation of statistics on trade by business characteristics and by invoicing currency, and specific goods or movements.
- Regulation (EC) No 638/2004 of 31 March 2004 on Community statistics relating to the trading of goods between Member States and repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 3330/91.
- Summaries of EU Legislation: Intrastat: statistics relating to the trading of goods between EU countries
- Commission Regulation (EC) No 1982/2004 of 18 November 2004 implementing Regulation (EC) No 638/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council on Community statistics relating to the trading of goods between Member States and repealing Commission Regulations (EC) No 1901/2000 and (EEC) No 3590/92.