(Corrects headline to remove reference to May)
FRANKFURT, May 22 (Reuters) - Germany imported 23.3% more natural gas in March than a year earlier, official data showed.
March imports totalled 580,899 Terajoules (TJ) or 16.5 billion cubic metres (bcm), trade statistics office BAFA, which releases the data with a time lag, said in a statement. A year earlier, the total had stood at 471,312 TJ.
Prices paid on the border of 3,474.55 euros/TJ ($3,785.17) in March, equivalent to 1.25 euro cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), were down 32.6% year-on-year as a supply glut weighed on the market.
Gas import volumes into Germany in the three months to end-March were up 6.5% on the previous year, at 1.6 million TJ, because consumers had taken advantage of low prices to fill up their stocks.
Average prices on the border in the January to March period were down 33.7% on comparable 2019 at 3,732.77 euros/TJ.
This enabled importers to cut bills to a total 6.1 billion euros, down by 29.1% in the period under review, BAFA said.
Gas, power and carbon traders follow gas imports because the supply and demand balance can change prices and traded volumes in all three markets.
Gas statistics also correlate with coal, which competes with gas in the production of electricity.
Germany mainly imports from Russia, Norway, the Netherlands, Britain and Denmark via pipelines, while imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) are also increasing in the region.
German gas stocks were at 81.5% of available storage capacity this week, European gas infrastructure group GIE’s website showed, compared with 66.2% a year earlier. ($1 = 0.9179 euros) (Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by Kirsten Donovan)