EUROPEAN GAS PRICES GROWTH
BLOOMBERG - Aug 2, 2022 - European natural gas prices advanced as traders seek clarity on supplies from Russia and the pace of demand destruction in the region.
Benchmark futures remain high, near 200 euros per megawatt-hour, after Russia’s Gazprom PJSC curbed flows on the key Nord Stream pipeline to about 20% of capacity last week. Flows through the link have been fluctuating near that level, or even below at times, since the weekend.
Russia has cut exports to Europe to multiyear lows this summer -- supplying less than a third of normal volumes -- and there’s no clarity on further moves.
The curbs have driven prices to the highest level since early-March, during the first weeks of Russia’s war in Ukraine. Soaring energy bills have fanned inflation, threatening to tip parts of the continent into recession, as nations rush to stockpile gas ahead of the winter months.
Supply shocks have already affected heavy-manufacturing companies that rely on the fuel.
Germany’s Covestro AG, a provider of high-tech polymers, warned of further risks to its facilities and the sector if gas flows are rationed. “Due to the close links between the chemical industry and downstream sectors, a further deterioration of the situation is likely to result in the collapse of entire supply and production chains,” the company said in an earnings statement on Tuesday.
European gas storage facilities are about 69% full, with the pace of refilling at average levels despite the cuts. Volumes of Russian supply in the weeks ahead -- plus the European Union’s ability to reduce consumption and attract liquefied natural gas amid competition from Asia -- will determine if enough fuel can be stored for the cold season.
Publicly, Moscow has claimed that issues with equipment at Nord Stream’s entry point in Russia, along with delays to its maintenance caused by international sanctions, have forced it to slash supply in several steps since June. However, Kremlin insiders have privately said that the cuts are to pressure the EU over sanctions and its support for Ukraine.
Dutch front-month gas contract, the European benchmark, rose 3.1% to 207 euros per megawatt hour by 9:10 a.m. in Amsterdam, after gaining 5.2% on Monday. The UK equivalent increased by 1.7%.