Europe’s demand for natural gas is expected to grow by 2% this year after contracting by around 4% in 2020, Norwegian energy major Equinor predicted in a market update on Wednesday. The drop last year was caused by mild weather and quarantines linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company said. While lockdowns have continued in the first quarter of 2021, the impact on gas demand has been smaller, according to Equinor.

“Our 2021 forecast builds on a return to average heating demand through the winter season and a gradual recovery of industrial and commercial activity,” an Equinor spokeswoman said in an email. “We foresee a gradual rebound in gas demand for 2021, but not a return to pre-COVID levels before 2022,” she added. Equinor is the second-largest supplier of natural gas to Europe after Russia’s Gazprom. Reuters

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