Nov 15, 2022
Europe Gas Prices Jump as Major US LNG Plant Stays Offline
(Bloomberg) -- European energy prices advanced amid concerns about liquefied natural gas imports from a key US facility and the first signs of cold weather.
Benchmark gas futures settled 9.2% higher, following an increase of 16% on Monday. Freeport LNG in Texas will likely extend an outage that began in June, increasing global competition for much-needed supplies right before the winter.
Temperatures on the continent are set to dip toward the end of the week, which could lift power and gas prices as heating demand increases. The combination of a cold snap and supply woes is a reminder that the European system will be fragile during the first winter in recent memory without significant Russian flows.
“Even though the winter has started mild, it’s too early to sell your skis. The winter could be coming any day soon,” Oystein Kalleklev, chief executive officer at Flex LNG Ltd., said in an earnings webcast on Tuesday. “It’s basically only small quantities of gas being exported to Europe, ironically enough, through Ukraine.”
Prices had been falling in recent weeks amid warmer-than-usual temperatures, delaying the start of the heating season, and strong liquefied natural gas flows that helped to fill stocks. But even with the buffer, the crisis is far from over. Futures are trading at about four times the five-year average.
“The gas levels in Europe is sufficient to cover about seven weeks of winter demand,” Kalleklev said, warning that next year will be more challenging for Europe.
Dutch front-month gas, Europe’s benchmark, closed at €124.10 a megawatt-hour after rising as much as 13% earlier in the day. The UK equivalent rose 9.6%.
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“This increase may seem excessive. But unfortunately it is completely in line with the level of market volatility,” analysts at EnergyScan, the market analysis platform of Engie SA, said in a note. “We will rather have to worry if prices tend to go back above their 1-year average, currently at €133 a megawatt-hour, because it would mean that the uptrend would be back.”
Freeport LNG told buyers it will likely cancel shipments scheduled for November and December as work continues on repairs and regulatory approvals before a restart, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
The plant previously accounted for about 15% of US shipments of the fuel, and the outage extension is set to increase the competition for cargoes in Europe and Asia.
Power prices rose along with the cost of fueling Europe’s gas-fired power stations. German power for next year, a benchmark for the continent, rose as much as 11% to €334 per megawatt-hour on Tuesday.
--With assistance from Todd Gillespie.
©2022 Bloomberg L.P.