FRANKFURT, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Germany cuts its gas imports by 32.6% in 2023, mainly as it saved on energy and exported less after Russia cut off westbound shipments the previous year, the energy regulator said on Thursday.

Germany was formerly a major customer of Russian pipeline gas but, after the onset of the war in Ukraine, from late 2022 it started building floating terminals to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the global market to complement pipelines.

The Bundesnetzagentur agency, in a statement using preliminary supply data, said that Germany imported 968 terawatt hours (TWh) of natural gas in 2023. Of that, 43% came from Norway, 26% from the Netherlands and 22% from Belgium.

The remainder was from overseas or elsewhere in Europe.

Gas exports from Germany to its neighbours, formerly a logical consequence of its abundant Russian import influx via Ukraine and the Baltic Sea and role as an onward distributor inside Europe, fell by 63% last year.

The 187 TWh of recorded 2023 exports, down from 499 TWh a year earlier, were mostly sent to the Czech Republic, Austria and the Netherlands.

Savings efforts and mild weather curbed national gas consumption in 2023 by 5% to 810 TWh.

Industry made more active savings in its processes while households saved less because more of their consumption of hot water and cooking gas is static.

Gas supply is comfortable right now, the regulator stated.

"Storage caverns are currently 91% filled. That is a very good basis for the remaining winter months," it said.

The slump in Russian energy exports to Europe in 2022 initially triggered sharp energy price rallies but savings and alternatives helped curb prices last year.

The benchmark day-ahead gas price fell by 68% year-on-year to 41 euros ($44.90) per megawatt hour (MWh) in 2023, and currently hovers just over 30 euros. ($1 = 0.9131 euros)

(Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by Susan Fenton)