East, West astound gas market with new stage of price showdown; Gazprom books 42.2 mcm for transit via Ukraine
MOSCOW. Aug 25 (Interfax) - The jump in Asian LNG prices on Wednesday has caused growth in European gas prices to new levels, as Asian buyers must now shore up their own inventories as winter approaches, having previously not forced purchases on the spot market, leaving available volumes to Europe instead.
The request for transit of Russian gas through Ukraine today has changed little from the previous days and months.
Gas Transport System Operator of Ukraine or GTSOU has accepted a booking from Gazprom today to transport 42.2 million cubic meters of gas through the country against 42.2 mcm the previous gas day, data from GTSOU show.
Capacity was requested only through one of two entry points into Ukraine's Gas Transport System, the Sudzha metering station. A request was not accepted through the Sokhranivka metering station.
"Gazprom is supplying Russian gas for transit through the territory of Ukraine at the volume confirmed by the Ukraine side via the Sudzha metering station at 42.2 mcm on August 25, with booking via the Sokhranivka metering station declined," Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov told reporters.
GTSOU has declared a force majeure in regard to accepting gas for transit through Sokhranivka, claiming that it cannot control the Novopskov compressor station. Ukraine has also said that if gas continued to be fed from Russia to the Sokhranivka station, amounts would be reduced accordingly at the exit points from Ukraine's gas transport system. The route through Sokhranivka had provided transit of more than 30 mcm of gas per day.
Gazprom believes there are no grounds for the force majeure or obstacles to continuing to operations as before.
Spot prices for gas in Europe, with Nord Stream compressors out of action, have risen to $3,000 per 1,000 cubic meters for the TTF day-ahead contract.
Prices in Asia are rising on the back of prices in Europe. The most expensive January futures on the JKM Platts index, which reflects spot market prices for gas delivered to Japan, South Korea, China and Taiwan, have reached $2,545.
Pumping via the Nord Stream pipeline from Russia to Europe has fallen to 33 mcm per day; and pumping will again be fully stopped between August 31 and September 2 for the latest round of maintenance, with the news of the downtime again driving prices upward. At full capacity, the pipeline could pump up to 167 mcm of gas per day, though capacity has been falling owing to disruptions in the maintenance schedule for compressor equipment at the Portovaya compressor station that feeds the pipeline. It has gas-pumping turbines from Rolls-Royce, whose gas turbine business was subsequently acquired by Germany's Siemens.
The delays are owing to sanctions that Canada has imposed against Gazprom, resulting in one turbine not having been returned to Russia on time from Siemens Energy's service center in Montreal. Meanwhile, the time has come for maintenance on the other turbines, owing to their having reached the end of the operating period between repairs, as well as because of breakdowns.
Some capacity of the Norwegian Troll field and the Kollsnes gas treatment unit will be shut down for annual maintenance from August 13 until the end of the month. Production capacity will decrease by 20 mcm of gas.
Wind plants have generated 8.4% of the European Union's electricity this week, and averaged 10% last week, data from WindEurope show.
LNG regasification terminals in Europe have been operating at 59% capacity in August, compared to July's average of 69%, according to Gas Infrastructure Europe data, which is primarily owing to the shutdown of the large Adriatic LNG terminal in Italy for almost the whole month, resulting in Italy's LNG imports having fallen over 50% compared to July levels. Average daily supply from LNG terminals in August is down 14% month-on-month. Europe is reducing imports of expensive LNG as the target level of 80% for inventories in underground gas storage (UGS) facilities approaches.
A new challenge awaits Europe's diversified gas supply. The hurricane season, usually peaking between mid-August and mid-November, is about to begin in the Gulf of Mexico, which could limit the ability to export American LNG. Updated forecasts for the season indicate the likelihood of hurricanes being more intense than usual.
Europe continues to inject gas into underground gas storage (UGS) facilities. Data on the state of UGS facilities, whose levels are now regulated by the law, have become one of the most important economic and political indicators for Europe, reflecting EU leaders' ability to ensure energy security.
Inventories in UGS facilities are currently at 78.05%, up just 0.31 percentage points from the last reporting date on August 23, according to Gas Infrastructure Europe data. European UGS facilities began to offtake gas at 77.5% in mid-October last year.
Europe has imposed tight regulations on the use of UGS facilities this year. Reserves are supposed to be at least 80% of the UGS facilities' capacity by the start of the 2022 offtake season and increase to 90% in subsequent years.
The minimum target level for inventories is already quite close, and the average level for the EU could reach 80% by the end of August, though operators are continuing to expedite pumping amid a severe energy shortage in the region, with intense heat, dry weather, and peak gas and electricity prices. Prices are currently high, but they could go even higher in the autumn and winter. Gazprom has already warned about growth potentially reaching $4,000 per thousand cubic meters.
Gas inventories in UGS facilities have currently exceeded 80% in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, and Spain.
As for the U.S., extensive gas exports are reducing resources available for pumping gas into storage facilities there. This factor is supporting prices on the U.S. domestic market. The current level of gas reserves in UGS facilities is only 4.96% above the five-year minimum. This gap is only narrowing during this summer's injection season, according to the U.S. Energy Department's Energy Information Administration. Current inventory lags 13% behind the five-year average. The situation with filling UGS facilities has improved slightly owing to a halt in exports through the Freeport LNG terminal following an accident.