Jan 26, 2023
European Gas Swings After Slump With Asian Demand in Focus
(Bloomberg) -- European natural gas declined for a fourth straight day as high storage levels, hopes for more US liquefied natural gas and forecasts for milder weather further eased the region’s energy crisis.
Benchmark futures fell 3.3%, reaching the lowest since September 2021 and extending January’s loss to 28%. The price also hit a 16-month low last week.
Ample stockpiles and shipments of LNG — along with efforts to reduce consumption — are helping Europe cope with Russia’s squeeze on energy supplies after its invasion of Ukraine. Expectations for more LNG come after a key export terminal in the US started taking steps to partially restart.
Prices slid even though wind-power generation fell in parts of Europe and the recent cold snap increased heating demand. Lower pipeline flows from Norway, curbed by planned and unplanned outages, also couldn’t reverse the drop. On Thursday, supplies from the continent’s top producer fell again, following a rebound a day earlier.
“The outlook for the region’s gas balance remains very healthy,” BloombergNEF said in its monthly report. “The key uncertainties for this picture are how high demand destruction remains and how the weather turns out for the rest of the heating season.”
Read also: European Gas Storage Likely to End Winter 51% Full
Dutch front-month gas, Europe’s benchmark, fell to €54.82 a megawatt-hour Thursday, erasing an earlier gain. The UK equivalent contract closed 2.8% lower.
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Industry watchers are assessing how far prices can fall before upsetting the balance in the global gas markets and diverting LNG shipments to Asia, especially with China reopening its economy after Covid lockdowns.
“Renewed interest in spot supply from price-sensitive buyers in Asia risks tightening” fuel flows, consultancy Energy Aspects Ltd. said in a note.
Outages at LNG terminals across the globe underscore the fragility of the market. Eni SpA canceled a cargo for February delivery to Pakistan, citing a force majeure at a facility in Nigeria, according to traders. It’s unlikely the country can afford to buy a replacement shipment from the spot market, they said.
--With assistance from Stephen Stapczynski.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.