Europe’s natural gas prices increase as temperatures fall

Continent's liquefied natural gas imports hit a record high in November

The Karst gas processing plant in Rogaland county, Norway, a significant supplier of natural gas to the EU since Russia's invasion of Ukraine. AFP
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European natural gas prices are rising as temperatures fall in the region, which is currently in the middle of an energy crisis.

Dutch TTF gas futures, the benchmark European contract, was trading at €149.25 ($157) a megawatt hour on Wednesday, up 10 per cent compared with a week ago.

With exports of Russian natural gas severely curtailed, the continent has been scrambling for alternative fuel sources.

Europe imported more than 11.4 million tonnes of LNG in November, a new record high for the year, energy consultancy Rystad Energy said.

France, Spain and the UK combined accounted for more than half of Europe’s total imports, the consultancy added.

European countries have signed LNG import agreements with the US and the Gulf countries over the past few months.

On Wednesday, the UK and the US announced a new energy partnership they say will help reduce Europe's dependency on Russian gas and oil.

Under the new UK-US Energy Security and Affordability Partnership, America will export at least nine to 10 billion cubic metres (bcm) of LNG over the next year via UK terminals, more than double the level of last year.

QatarEnergy has signed two sales and purchase agreements with US oil and gas company ConocoPhillips to deliver up to two million tonnes per annum of LNG to Germany.

In October, Austrian energy company OMV signed a preliminary agreement with Abu Dhabi's Adnoc with the aim of purchasing an LNG cargo for next winter.

European countries, which met their gas storage targets in late October, will also rely more on their gas reserves as temperatures in the region continue to plummet.

“We expect gas to be withdrawn from European gas storage at levels between 300 and 500 million cubic metres per day,” Rystad Energy said.

“The gas market will be supported by strong LNG imports, firm Norwegian gas pipeline flows and stable gas supply from Africa and Azerbaijan.”

The EU is reportedly considering a natural gas price cap of €220 ahead of a meeting on December 13.

Several countries, including France and Spain, previously rejected the European Commission’s proposal for a temporary gas price cap.

The move to impose a ceiling on Dutch TTF gas futures would distort market signals with potential “unintended consequences” for demand and supply, Rystad Energy said in a report last month.

Electricity tariffs have increased in the region during higher demand for heating.

The UK has surpassed Italy in having the most expensive power in Europe, with prices up 121 per cent week on week to average €363 per MWh last week, Rystad Energy said.

Europe could face a deficit of as much as 30bcm of natural gas in 2023 if Russian supplies come to a halt and demand from China recovers, the International Energy Agency said in a November report.

The cushion provided by current storage levels as well as recent lower gas prices and mild temperatures should not lead to “overly optimistic” conclusions about the future, the agency said.

Global LNG supply is expected to increase by only 20bcm in 2023, with about one third of the growth coming from the US.

Updated: December 09, 2022, 5:30 AM