European gas prices fall as supply disruptions ease

Natural gas flows from Israel to Egypt resumed last week after a brief closure

The production platform of Leviathan natural gas field is off the coast of Haifa, Israel. Reuters
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European natural gas prices have fallen for three straight weeks as concerns ease about supply being affected by the Israel-Gaza war.

Dutch Title Transfer Facility gas futures, the benchmark European contract, were trading at €48.06 ($51.59) per megawatt hour on Monday after surging to about €60 last month.

Gas prices soared after Israel shut down the offshore Tamar gasfield amid fears it could be affected by the fighting with Hamas, the ruling group in Gaza.

Supply concerns were also stoked by strikes at Chevron’s Gorgon and Wheatstone projects in Western Australia, which supply around 6 per cent of the world's liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Although Israel has surplus gas production, which currently supports Egypt and Jordan’s demand, a continued or escalated conflict would have wide-ranging implications, according to Rystad Energy.

“The fate of the three largest Israeli gas development projects – Tamar, Leviathan and Karish – will affect the regional market greatly,” the Norwegian consultancy said last month.

Natural gas flows from Israel to Egypt resumed last week after the North African country reported a halt in imports.

Egypt imports about 7 billion cubic feet per year of natural gas from the Tamar and Leviathan gas developments to meet rising domestic energy demand and for additional exports to Europe through its LNG plant.

Jordan, which relies heavily on fossil fuel imports, also gets most of its gas from the Leviathan field.

Europe is well positioned to get through the peak winter season without any major supply shortfalls, with storage sites exceeding 90 per cent capacity.

“Given today’s ample buffers, European gas storage should remain within historic levels even in the scenario of colder-than-usual weather and above-usual heating demand,” said Norbert Rucker, head of economics and next generation research at Julius Baer.

“However, all things are never equal. Europe is the biggest buyer of overseas natural gas and thus in competition for cargoes with Asian buyers including Japan, South Korea, and China,” Mr Rucker added.

European natural gas prices reached a record high of €345 a megawatt hour last year in March after Russia reduced its exports to the region following its invasion of Ukraine.

Global natural gas demand is set to slow in the coming years amid declining consumption in mature markets due to an “accelerated” roll-out of renewables and improved energy efficiency, according to the International Energy Agency.

Demand is projected to grow by 1.6 per cent a year between 2022 and 2026, down from an average of 2.5 per cent a year between 2017 and 2021, the agency said in its Gas 2023 Medium-Term Market Report in October.

Updated: November 06, 2023, 8:38 AM