(Bloomberg) -- Investment funds have stepped up bets that European gas prices will rise, highlighting increasing concerns over fuel supplies. 

The number of net long positions in benchmark Dutch gas futures held by investment funds gained for a second consecutive week, according to data from Intercontinental Exchange Inc. Bets on rising prices are near the highest since January 2022, the month before Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine roiled the markets.

Europe is increasingly reliant on global supplies to replenish its inventories, leaving the market more vulnerable to supply disruptions. Even brief outages in top supplier Norway have triggered price spikes recently, and increasing competition with Asia for liquefied natural gas cargoes could hamper ambitions to rebuild inventories ahead of winter. 

The latest data coincided with a period of intense volatility in Europe’s gas market. Last week, an international arbitration ruling awarded Germany’s Uniper SE more than €13 billion ($14 billion) in damages from Gazprom PJSC, sparking concerns over remaining gas flows to Europe.

The continent’s storage facilities are currently over 73% full, higher than usual for the time of year. Yet fears persist over unexpected outages, heat waves and geopolitical developments have pushed gas prices about 7% higher this year.

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