FRANKFURT, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Germany imported 9.7 percent more gas in 2018 than the year before and raised its import bill by 23.4 percent, official data showed on Friday.
The volume of imports from January through to December was 4.45 million Terajoules (TJ) or 126 billion cubic metres (cbm), according to trade statistics office BAFA, which releases data with a time lag.
German importers paid 23.7 billion euros ($26.70 billion) for gas in the year, mirroring a rise in oil prices.
Traders of gas, power and carbon watch winter gas imports especially as possible imbalances in supply and demand can drive up prices and volumes in all three markets.
Europe’s biggest economy uses gas for industry, heating homes and power generation.
Germany’s gas supply is mainly imported from Russia, Norway, the Netherlands, Britain and Denmark via pipelines.
Europe on the whole is increasingly absorbing volumes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) arriving on specialised vessels from the world market, namely the U.S., a trend which has boosted storage levels and pushed down price spreads.
Gas can take market share from coal if prices are competitive.
The BAFA-quoted price on the German border in December was 5,630.21 euros per TJ, equivalent to 2.03 euro cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), up 11.8 percent from a year earlier.
German gas stocks were at 57.13 percent of available storage capacity on Wednesday, the European gas infrastructure group GIE website showed. This compared with 40.54 percent a year earlier. ($1 = 0.8875 euros) (Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by Elaine Hardcastle)