(Bloomberg) -- So much liquefied natural gas is flowing into Europe that the region’s import facilities are struggling to keep up with the incoming tankers, according to Spain’s gas network operator.
Enagas SA may limit the number of cargoes its LNG system handles until the first week of November as a “significant” reduction in industrial demand since August and high storage levels left it little room to absorb excess imports, it said in a statement. “This situation is not an isolated event in the Spanish gas system, it’s also taking place in other countries around us,” Enagas said, without being more specific.
The warning from Spain, whose six LNG terminals make up Europe’s largest regasification network, highlights the volatile conditions in the continent’s gas market this year. After the rush for LNG to replace shrinking flows from Russia to fill winter reserves, soaring fuel costs have forced industry to cut back on gas and warmer-than-normal weather is curbing heating demand, creating infrastructure bottlenecks.
At least seven tankers laden with LNG are moored off Spain’s southwest coast, while in the UK another two are anchored near the country’s Milford Haven terminal, Bloomberg ship-tracking data show. That’s helped boost Bloomberg’s index for loaded tankers on the water 20 days or more to the highest level since at least 2017 and more than double the five-year average.
Read more: US LNG Import Surge Shows No Sign of Slowing in Europe
Imports into Northwest Europe and Italy reached a total of 1.9 million tons over the week of Oct. 10-16, about 58% higher than the same period a month earlier, according to BloombergNEF.
The unusually high utilization of Europe’s regasification terminals is creating a modest glut that’s put pressure on prices, analysts at Morgan Stanley wrote last week. The spread between the northwest European LNG price and the region’s gas benchmark has been as high as $20 per million British thermal units in recent weeks from close to zero last year, they said.
“All of a sudden, regas terminals have become highly valuable,” the Morgan Stanley analysts wrote.
All LNG tankers that have booked a slot at Enagas’ terminals will be able to unload, a spokesperson for the Madrid-based utility said.
The bottlenecks may ease as winter approaches and demand increases, creating more capacity headroom at the terminals. Also, Europe’s biggest gas consumer, Germany, is rushing to install at least two LNG terminals for this heating season to reduce dependence on its neighbors.
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