One French LNG terminal goes back to work, Gazprom requests 41.5 mcm for transit via Ukraine
MOSCOW. March 20 (Interfax) - One of France's four liquefied natural gas terminals in, Dunkerque LNG, has gone back to work while the other three are still at a standstill because of strike action in protest against the changes in pension legislation.
European underground storage facilities showed a net increase in inventories for the first time since the January holidays. However, this does not mean the gas offtake season is at an end and the intake season about to begin as stocks rose on a weekend, when gas consumption is reduced.
Gas Transport System Operator of Ukraine, or GTSOU, has accepted a booking from Gazprom today to transport 41.5 million cubic meters of gas through the country, compared with 42.4 mcm on Friday and 40 mcm at the weekend, data from the 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 Sokhranovka 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 41.5 mcm on March 20, with booking via the Sokhranovka metering station declined," Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov told reporters.
The GTSOU has declared a force majeure with respect to acceptance of gas for transit through Sokhranovka, claiming that it cannot control the Novopskov compressor station. The route through Sokhranovka had provided transit of more than 30 mcm of gas per day. Gazprom believes that there are no grounds for the force majeure or obstacles to continuing operations as before.
Gas prices in Europe usually fall ahead of weekend. The day-ahead contract for Monday at the Dutch TTF gas hub in the Netherlands fell 6% in the space of 24 hours and closed at $463 per thousand cubic meters.
The spread between LNG prices in Asia and those in Europe is noticeable. In Asia, the most expensive futures contract for April on the JKM Platts index is $506 per thousand cubic meters, and futures under the LNG North-West Europe Marker are $468 per thousand cubic meters.
Wind turbines provided 21% of the region's electricity needs last week on average, falling from 33% in Monday to 9.7% on Sunday.
Current inventory levels in Europe's underground gas storage (UGS) facilities have declined to 55.7%, which is 21 percentage points above the average for the same date over the past five years, according to Gas Infrastructure Europe.
Inventories inched up 0.02 percentage point during the gas day for March 18.
European LNG terminals operated at 63% capacity in February, but 57% since the start of March due to the shutdown at France's terminals because of the strike action.
The state of gas in UGS facilities in the United States is of increasing importance for the global market, as the country is actively increasing gas exports.
Mild weather in the U.S. means reduced offtake. Inventories decreased 1.6 billion cubic meters for the latest reporting week, which is markedly less than the usual offtake for this time of the year.
The current level of inventories is around 41%, which is 24 percentage points higher than the five-year average, according to the U.S. Energy Department's Energy Information Administration. The current inventories are almost at a five-year high.
Freeport LNG, the largest U.S. LNG plant, has announced reopening all three liquefaction lines, thereby reducing the excess gas on the U.S. market and boosting supplies of LNG to the global market.