EU gas price cap agreement sends firm message to markets

The EU’s gas price cap agreement yesterday, achieved following months of deliberation, comes as a major European step that offers energy-cost protection to households and businesses, while also sending a strong message to markets that natural gas purchases will not be made at any price.

EU energy ministers agreed to trigger a cap if natural gas prices exceed 180 euros per MWh for three days at the Dutch TTF index, which serves as the European benchmark. The cap could serve as a crucial tool against any future price surge, as was the case last summer.

Gas price levels are not expected to fall immediately. Even so, the TTF index did drop to 107 euros per MWh yesterday, following the EU’s gas price cap agreement.

It is impossible to predict whether the price cap will prove effective enough to contain gas prices below 100 euros per MWh on a permanent basis and level out wild price fluctuations swinging over 30 euros per MWh in a single day.

Also, it remains to be seen how individual market players will respond if demand increases and gas prices escalate to levels near 180 euros per MWh in the months ahead. If they please, buyers and sellers could establish bilateral agreements above the price cap level, essentially nullifying it.