(Bloomberg) -- European natural gas prices are heading for their longest run of weekly declines since 2007, with demand proving stubborn to return as the economy shows few signs of a meaningful recovery.

Benchmark futures tumbled as much as 6.9% on Friday, posting an 19% weekly loss in the eighth consecutive week of declines. Prices extended this year’s slump to 68%. The dramatic fall comes after industries have struggled to increase production amid persistent inflation and a gloomy economic backdrop.

The situation has raised concerns that some demand for gas might now be permanently lost or substituted after last year’s record prices hit manufacturers particularly hard. Fuller-than-average gas inventories, mild weather and an abundance of liquefied natural gas have also lowered demand, raising questions about how much lower prices can go before producers start curbing output.

Traders also are eyeing how lackluster demand could affect prices heading into winter. Europe will have difficulties absorbing September–October gas supply if the pace of injections remains quick enough to push the region’s inventories above 100 billion cubic meters by early September, according to Energy Aspects Ltd.

Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, endured its first recession since the start of the pandemic over the winter. China’s weaker-than-expected economic recovery is also weighing on prices, with the country’s biggest LNG importers noticeably absent from the spot market and are even offering to sell shipments, according to traders. 

Dutch front-month gas, Europe’s benchmark, settled at €24.52 per megawatt-hour, the lowest level since May 2021. The UK equivalent contract fell 2.1%. German power prices for next month slipped 2.9%

--With assistance from Josefine Fokuhl and Anna Shiryaevskaya.

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