Low temperatures in Europe pushing gas prices higher, LNG tankers returning

Lower-than-usual temperatures for this time of year have greatly increased the pressure on natural gas prices, driving prices higher.

Gas prices have also increased in other European markets, including Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.

In some markets, such as that of the UK, the strong demand for gas has also been attributed to factors other than the low temperatures, such as reduced wind energy production.

The current price for gas at Dutch gas trading platform TTF is 17.66 €/MWh, 17.233 €/MWh at the PEG exchange, 18.17 €/MWh at the NCG, 18.304 €/MWh at Gaspool, 18.529 €/MWh at the VTP,  and 18.575 €/MWh at the PSV, according to ICIS Heren, an established information provider for the gas, power and carbon markets.

The higher gas demand has prompted an increase in LNG tanker deliveries to European destinations. A total of 10.2 billion cubic meters were added to European terminals in March, the highest level recorded since April, 2020, and almost double the 5 bcm figure registered in January, according to latest data.

Low gas prices at European hubs earlier this year resulted in LNG tanker routes to Asian markets, where prices and profit margins were greater. Higher prices in Europe are now bringing back tankers to the continent.

As for the Greek market, two LNG tankers are scheduled to arrive at the Revythoussa terminal, on the islet just off Athens, in April, beginning, early in the month, with a joint order placed by the Heron and Mytilineos companies for 73,855 cubic meters each. It will be followed by a second order, scheduled for late in April, by Elpedison (118,168 cubic meters) and Motor Oil Hellas (33,235 cubic meters).

Two further shipments are expected at the Revythoussa terminal in May, according to the current schedule, one for Mytilineos, the other for Elpedison.

Energy transition to boost medium-term gas demand; 6 bcm total expected in ’20

The energy transition is boosting the prospects of an increase in Greek natural gas consumption, which could rise by 2.5 to 3 bcm in the medium term, market experts project.

Pundits expect total gas consumption in 2020 to reach 6 bcm, up considerably from levels registered in 2019, and stabilize at this level in 2021.

Electricity generation is a key factor in the anticipated rise of gas consumption as the withdrawal of lignite-fired power stations should increase the energy-mix share of natural gas to levels of between 30 and 40 percent.

The rise in gas consumption in the short term will greatly depend on the number of new gas-fired power stations to be introduced. For example, a gas-consumption increase of as much as 1.5 bcm is expected if three gas-fired power units with respective capacities of 800 MW are introduced to the system.

Exports are expected to add a further 1 bcm to the market’s size, while small-scale expansion covering the shipping sector and needs of detached areas should add another 500 million cubic meters to consumption.