International gas prices lowered by favorable conditions

More favorable market conditions of late have prompted a de-escalation of international gas prices, currently on a downward trajectory. This morning, the international price for natural gas reached as low as 107.355 euros per MWh, a new four-month low.

Market officials explained that LNG is currently available in abundance with some tankers unable to secure delivery destinations as Europe’s storage facilities are close to full.

At the same time, demand for Russian gas in Asia, primarily China – where Russia has turned to as a result of restricted exports to Europe – has fallen significantly. Mild weather conditions in Europe at present have helped contain demand for gas.

This gas price drop will not become fully apparent in the retail market until mid-November – unless a new price surge is experienced – as prices are set based on the previous month’s prices.

‘EC intervention acceptance of energy market failure’

The European Commission has finally decided to adopt state intervention measures in energy markets, mainly electricity, after much delay, essentially accepting the failure of markets to produce desired results, Pantelis Kapros, Professor of Energy Economics at the National Technical University of Athens, has noted in an analysis.

Major energy price increases needed to spread throughout Europe for Brussels to decide to intervene, the energy expert noted.

Fixed price offers and price hedging contracts – which, in many countries, secured, over a considerable period, relatively stable retail electricity prices not reflecting rising electricity prices at energy exchanges – have become impossible to maintain as a result of the extended energy price crisis, the professor pointed out in his analysis.

Consumer prices are now skyrocketing virtually everywhere in Europe, increasing the risk of bankruptcies, a perilous situation that has prompted EU governments to push the European Commission for state intervention proposals, the professor underlined.

During this crisis, electricity markets have failed to achieve consumer prices at levels reflecting the true long-term average cost of electricity, as healthy competition would, the professor noted.

Given the exorbitant natural gas prices at present, green hydrogen would represent a lower-cost alternative, if infrastructure was in place, the professor noted, concluding green transition is the only positive way out of the problem, as has now been recognized by all.

Reduced power usage, gas price caps on EU meeting agenda

A list of emergency energy price-control measures to be discussed by the EU-27 energy ministers at an extraordinary meeting on September 9 make up a document prepared by the EU’s Czech presidency.

The proposals to be discussed, nine in total, include temporary caps on the price of natural gas used for electricity generation as well as plans for a reduction of electricity consumption.

Member states are already forming alliances and preparing to back preferred strategies ahead of the emergency meeting.

The document highlights the need for a united European response to soaring energy prices, while also underlining the difficult winter that lies ahead. “The resilience of the European energy market will be tested in the coming winter,” the document notes.

The list of proposals to be discussed also includes a temporary cap on the price of imported natural gas from specific sources of origin, as well as temporary exclusion of natural gas power plants from energy exchange clearing prices.

 

European resolve for crisis solution containing gas prices

The growing resolve of European officials to find solutions that could contain gas prices is already producing results, as highlighted by a significant price reduction of just over 30 percent over the past week.

Germany appears to have changed stance by joining EU member states of the south in their call for a cap on natural gas, now being examined by the European Commission following a delay of many months.

Germany’s public admission that a single European solution is needed to counter the energy crisis, an acknowledgment coming after the country previously blocked proposals forwarded by Europe’s south, has swiftly impacted energy markets.

Yesterday’s news of a new Russian gas supply disruption through Nord Stream I, under the pretext of maintenance requirements, did not prompt a further increase in gas prices, as would be expected, but, instead, resulted in a price reduction. The TTF index fell yesterday to 239 euros per MWh, down from a record level of 346 euros per MWh on August 26, a 31 percent drop over the one-week period.

This reduction has filtered through to today’s wholesale electricity prices around Europe. They fell to 635 euros per MWh in France, 571 euros per MWh in Germany, 661 euros per MWh in Italy, and 582 euros per MWh in Greece and Bulgaria. The price level for Greece is approximately 100 euros lower compared to yesterday.

 

EU exploring ways to counter skyrocketing natural gas prices

The EU is preparing drastic energy policy changes in response to the economic impact prompted by Russia’s war on Ukraine. Europe’s determination for change is highlighted by a series of initiatives that have already surfaced, including the Repower EU package, announced this week, aiming to severely limit Europe’s reliance on Russian gas and limit gas consumption in general; proposals for price ceilings; and other measures, all of which will be discussed at an informal summit in Paris today.

Until now, measures called for by Europe’s south as means of tackling exorbitant energy prices pushed higher by the energy crisis of previous months, have been largely overlooked by the continent’s north.

However, more attention to these calls is now being paid by the north as the crisis drags on, exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has pushed energy prices through the roof and begun to also trouble consumers in the north.

A proposal forwarded by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who has called for price ceilings at the Dutch TTF exchange, as a response to record-high gas prices, is one of the subjects expected to be discussed at today’s meeting in France.

The Greek leader yesterday reminded of the wholesale gas price level just over a year ago, in February, 2021, at 30 euros per MWh, which, in Greek market terms, translates to wholesale electricity prices of 90 euros per MWh, about a quarter of the current level, at 349.80 euros per MWh.

Oil, gas prices surge to record levels, confirming Russia war market fears

Oil and gas prices have reached unimaginable levels, breaking one record after another to cause the biggest market shock in decades and confirm fears of the extent of the impact Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would have on international energy markets.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine almost a fortnight ago, prices for electricity, gasoline, diesel, natural gas, as well as grains and virtually all other basic commodities have skyrocketed after stabilizing at elevated levels over many months.

Yesterday’s price surges in international energy markets were extraordinary. Natural gas futures contracts, set for delivery in April, reached a record high of 345 euros per MWh, up 79 percent in a day, before de-escalating to 215 euros per MWh at the end of trading.

The Brent crude oil price is now steadily over 120 dollars a barrel. It has been driven higher by media reports of a US plan to ban Russian oil and gas imports.

Such price levels, even if there are no further rises, will result in major inflationary pressure for the global economy.

According to a Bloomberg report, US president Joe Biden is examining the prospect of imposing an embargo on Russian oil, even without the participation of European allies.

Any European breakaway from Russian gas supply would require extreme measures from European governments and the energy sector to cover the resulting gap and ensure energy supply needs for consumers and enterprises are met, officials at French energy group Engie noted.

Highlighting the shock felt in markets around the world, Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank, remarked: “I’m lost for words.”

 

European social unrest feared as crisis is expected to deepen

Since its outbreak seven months ago, the energy crisis, adding to the economic hardship prompted by the pandemic, has now been pushed to even further extremes by Russia’s war on Ukraine, as higher energy prices over the long term appear likely.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine – following months of increasing gas prices paid by European consumers for Russian gas supplied by Gazprom – is driving energy prices even higher and, by extension, generating further inflationary pressure to limit the purchasing power of Europeans, a catalyst for social unrest.

Under the current market conditions, energy debt will surely rise around Europe, including Greece, as consumers struggle to meet extremely higher energy costs. Also, many energy companies will struggle to stay in business.

Social unrest and a new round of Euroscepticism can be expected once consumers fully realize that higher energy costs are not just ephemeral.

Just one year ago, wholesale electricity prices in Europe averaged between 50 and 60 euros per MWh. In Greece, annual electricity consumption totaling 50 to 55 TWh was worth approximately 3 billion euros.

Yesterday, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, natural gas prices climbed as high as 144 euros per MWh, before settling at 120 euros per MWh. Natural gas prices of such levels result in wholesale electricity prices of between 250 and 300 euros per MWh, roughly five times higher than a year ago.

Should such price levels remain, Greece’s annual electricity cost of 3 billion euros, until the start of 2021, will become a sweet memory of the past. The country’s additional electricity cost could end up being worth as much as 11 billion euros, if wholesale electricity prices remain at levels of between 200 and 250 euros per MWh.

Factoring in the additional money needed by consumers for heating costs – petrol and natural gas – only exacerbates the problem.

European gas reserves rise slightly, helped by LNG inflow, weather

Europe’s natural gas reserves have risen slightly, helped by the arrival of LNG tankers at European shores in recent weeks and, possibly more crucially, the mild winter weather experienced around the continent during the festive period, latest data has shown.

Gas deposit deficits have narrowed since December 24, while inflow marginally exceeded consumption between December 30 and January 1, according to Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE).

This trend is definitely beneficial for Europe ahead of the further winter period, improving reserve levels for greater sufficiency until March.

Natural gas prices in Europe dipped to 66 euros per MWh yesterday before rebounding to 80 euros per MWh.

At present, it is estimated that 46 American LNG tankers are bound for Europe carrying a combined quantity of approximately 4.1 billion cubic meters. It remains to be seen if gas prices can keep falling.

 

Markets challenged by nuclear withdrawals, gas crisis, demand

A series of unfavorable developments, including nuclear reactor withdrawals in Germany and Belgium, persistently high natural gas prices and strong energy demand threaten will further test the European grid, threatening to prolong the energy crisis.

The withdrawal of nuclear reactors in Germany and Belgium, combined with skyrocketing natural gas prices, will negatively impact Europe’s electricity market, even in countries where natural gas holds a small share of the energy mix, as markets are interconnected, enabling a knock-on effect.

Germany has announced a withdrawal, today, of nuclear reactors with a combined capacity of 4.25 GW and remaining capacities, totaling about 4.3 GW, by end-2022. Overall, this phase-out represents 12 percent of the country’s electricity supply.

In addition, Germany’s new coalition intends to reassess the country’s existing decarbonization plan, its phase-out of fossil-fuel plants running until 2038, with the aim of shortening this procedure t0 2030, if possible.

Belgium is headed in the same direction. The country’s nuclear reactor phase-out runs until 2025. The country’s Doel 3 facility is planned to shut down in October, 2022, followed by Tihange 2 in early 2023.

Electricity demand in ten European countries is forecast to increase by 2 percent, or 5 GW, on average, in 2022, according to a Platts Analytics projection.

CO2, natural gas prices soaring, no end in sight for energy crisis

CO2 emission right prices climbed to a new record level yesterday, peaking at over 90 euros per ton before retreating to approximately 80 euros per ton, while, similarly, natural gas prices once again rose to over 100 euros per MWh after having eased to levels of up to 85 euros per MWh late in November.

These latest price trends dispel any projections of an imminent end in the energy crisis as both CO2 emission right prices and natural gas prices are pivotal factors in the determination of wholesale electricity prices.

The energy crisis appears set to remain for at least this winter, which will hurt economies and increase inflation rates, reemerging as a serious concern in the EU after many years.

Wholesale electricity prices remain well over 200 euros per MWh throughout Europe.

In Greece, today’s wholesale electricity price is 231.83 euros per MWh, with the December average for the country currently at 226.99 euros per MWh, slightly below the November average.

The highest price in Europe for today was registered in Switzerland, at 270.25 euros per MWh, followed by Italy at 256.32 euros per MWh, France at 247.19 euros per MWh, Serbia at 246.45 euros per MWh, and Croatia and Slovenia, both registering 244.25 euros per MWh.

 

Natural gas a leading issue at upcoming Greek-Russian talks

Energy matters, especially sharply risen natural prices, will be high on the agenda at a forthcoming 13th Greek-Russian Joint Interministerial Committee scheduled to take place in Moscow on November 29 and 30.

Gas utility DEPA’s current contract with Russia’s Gazprom runs until 2026 but the two sides renegotiate, each year, the details of its pricing formula and a take-or-pay clause incorporated into the agreement.

DEPA’s supply agreement with Gazprom is entirely oil-indexed but an extraordinary revision was made for 2020 and 2021 as oil prices were extremely high, well over LNG price levels. A large proportion of Russian gas received by DEPA was indexed with the TTF gas hub in the Netherlands.

The situation has overturned this year, LNG prices rising well above oil prices. As a result, Gazprom wants to avoid a fully oil-indexed agreement for gas supply to DEPA in 2022 and prefers a hybrid solution that would partially index its gas prices with the TTF.

DEPA and Gazprom have yet to reach an agreement, but the two sides will need to converge by the end of this month, which would enable the Greek gas company to set prices and establish deals with customers in the Greek market.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is scheduled to travel to Moscow on December 8 for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the first direct meeting between the two leaders since Mitsotakis assumed office in July, 2019.

 

DEPA in gas supplier talks for ’22 prices, Gazprom deal crucial

Gas company DEPA is currently engaged in negotiations with its suppliers for agreements  covering 2022, its talks with main supplier Gazprom being the most crucial. The pricing formula to be agreed on by DEPA with Gazprom will greatly shape the prices to be offered by the Greek company to its customers – electricity producers, industrial producers and retail energy suppliers.

Though there are signs of a possible price de-escalation, gas prices remain elevated. The percentage of Gazprom supply to be oil-indexed will be a pivotal factor in price levels offered by DEPA to customers.

DEPA has already reached an agreement with Algeria’s Sonetrach for a one-year extension to a deal expiring at the end of 2021, energypress sources have informed. A hybrid pricing formula primarily based on the Dutch TTF index has been agreed to, the sourced added.

Greece’s agreement with Turkey’s BOTAS, for natural gas originating from Azerbaijan, is set to expire at the end of this year, but no moves have been made for a renewal as Azeri gas has been supplied by Azerbaijan Gas Supply to the Greek market since the end of 2020 through the new TAP route. This supply contract, fixed and not subject to negotiation, is valid until 2044.

DEPA’s pending agreement with Russia’s Gazprom Export, its main supplier, is the most crucial. It expires in 2026 but is subject to annual talks concerning pricing formula and take-or-play clause revisions.

DEPA’s agreement with Gazprom is currently entirely oil-indexed. The the two sides had agreed to an extraordinary revision for 2020 and 2021 indexing prices with the TTF gas index as oil prices were considerably higher. The opposite is now the case, with LNG prices well above oil prices. Gazprom officials now prefer prices to not be fully indexed to oil.