European gas prices have doubled in just 10 trading days, showing how the market remains on edge over gas supplies on the continent, despite record levels of inventories for the time of year.
In Thursday’s trading, the price of Europe’s benchmark Title Transfer Facility (TTF) rose as much as 27 percent intraday to EUR 49.50 per megawatt hour, the highest level since early April. At the beginning of June, the TTF fell to a two-year low of 23 EUR/MwH.
While prices are still well down from their highs of last summer, when Russian pipeline disruptions drove TTF to eye-watering heights above €340/MwH, traders said market participants remain nervous. Underscoring the volatility, TTF prices later temporarily traded below the previous day’s close before rising 7.3 percent to €42.80.
Fresh news that the Netherlands is to stick with plans to shut down the Groningen gas field this year – once Europe’s biggest single source of domestic supplies – sparked a rally on Thursday, while forecasts of warmer weather and a longer supply cut at key fields in Norway continued. support prices.
The supply disruptions have fueled concerns that European natural gas markets are still adjusting to a new reality where securing seaborne liquefied natural gas imports is crucial to replacing Russian pipeline supplies that covered 40 percent of EU demand before the invasion of Ukraine.
“News of the Groningen shutdown adds to a string of other reports that are bullish on gas prices,” said Tom Marzec-Manser of energy consultancy ICIS. “However, the price swings suggest that there is still a lot of uncertainty around the outlook for European gas and market participants remain on the sidelines,” he said.
Hans Vijlbrief, Dutch State Secretary for Mining, he told the FT in January, Groningen will be closed until October 1, but will remain open until October 2024 if needed.
Groningen’s gas production was cut to 2.8 billion cubic meters a year last year, the minimum to keep its pumps running, with the shock blamed on drilling that caused damage to property in the area.
While European gas storage is now more than 70 percent full and on track to meet the bloc’s goal of 90 percent full storage by early November, storage alone cannot meet winter demand.
Ahead of the TTF’s recovery this month, the price of LNG in northeast Asia briefly swung above the European market, one of the first times since the energy crisis began, prompting traders to send cargo east.
However, with prices surging in recent days, TTF has regained its premium over Asian gas markets, once again motivating traders to send LNG to Europe.
“We’ll see [the competition for LNG] this year and in the years to come. The link between European and Asian markets and LNG prices will generally be stronger than before the Ukraine war because Europe is now buying much more LNG,” said Glen Kurokawa, head of the energy sector at consultancy CRU.
But Kurokawa said he did not think competition for LNG would be as intense this year compared to 2022, arguing that Europe had reduced “gas consumption for industry” and the power sector compared to last year.