Amsterdam – The wholesale price of gas for the European market fell again today, despite a temporary increase due to the suspension of deliveries by the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. The price of the key gas futures contract for October delivery in the Title Transfer Facility (TTF) virtual trading hub In the Netherlands, it decreased by almost ten percent and closed at around 239 euros (5,860 CZK) per megawatt hour (MWh).
On Friday, the price climbed to close to 350 euros per MWh. Although it has fallen significantly since then, it still remains many times higher than a year ago, when it was below 30 euros per MWh.
Early this morning, Russia cut gas supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which is the main route for transporting Russian natural gas to the European Union. The announced shutdown is expected to last until Saturday morning.
“We believe that the markets are overestimating the risks associated with energy supplies and that the sharp rise in prices will subside over time,” said Julius Baer analyst Norbert Rücker, according to Reuters.
Russia has suspended gas supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline for maintenance
Early this morning, Russia cut gas supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which is the main route for transporting Russian natural gas to the European Union. The announced shutdown is expected to last until Saturday morning. Russian gas company Gazprom said about two weeks ago that the only remaining compressor station needed maintenance. The halt in supplies of the raw material thus escalated the economic war between the EU and Russia, Reuters reported.
Analysts point out that stopping gas supplies via the main route increases the likelihood of an economic recession in Europe. It also means the need to introduce cost-saving measures regarding gas consumption in some EU countries. Due to weaker supplies, the price of gas for the European market has increased significantly.
Data from the entry points connecting Nord Stream 1 to the German gas system confirmed that gas flow had dropped to zero early in the morning. The operator of the gas pipeline is Nord Stream AG, in which Gazprom has the main say.
Nord Stream 1 transports gas from Russia to Germany along the bottom of the Baltic Sea. Gas pipelines are connected to it from Germany to other countries, including the Czech Republic. The situation surrounding Russian gas supplies became more complicated when Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine in February and the EU adopted a series of anti-Russian sanctions in retaliation.
On August 19, Gazprom announced that gas transportation through Nord Stream 1 will resume after a three-day shutdown if no technical problems arise. Gas should start flowing through the pipeline again on Saturday at 03:00 CEST. But European governments fear that Moscow could extend the blackout in retaliation for Western sanctions.
Gazprom justifies the reduction of gas supplies by technical problems, including the missing turbine at the Portovaja station. But the European Union says the technical problems are just a pretext and that Moscow is using the gas as a weapon to advance its interests. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov repeated today, according to the Interfax agency, that Russia cannot fulfill its gas supply obligations due to Western sanctions.
The head of Germany’s Bundesnetzagentur agency, Klaus Müller, said he did not understand the nature of this new maintenance of Nord Stream 1 from a technical point of view. However, if from Saturday the volume of gas in the pipeline returns to 20 percent of the capacity where it was before the maintenance, Germany can handle it. Its gas tanks are already almost 85 percent full. The Bundesnetzagentur is in charge of regulating network services in Germany.
“In the winter we can take gas from storage tanks. We are saving gas now (and we must continue to do so!), we will have LNG terminals and thanks to Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway (and soon France) the gas is flowing,” he wrote Müller on Twitter. Germany, like for example Poland, is planning further investments in liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals in order to be able to take the raw material from distant deposits and import it on tankers across the sea. LNG imports to Europe from the United States have already increased significantly.
The operator of Nord Stream 1 gradually reduced the volume of transported gas to 20 percent of capacity. In June, first to 40 percent, later more, up to the current fifth. The capacity of the pipeline is up to 167 million cubic meters of gas per day, the last time about 30 million cubic meters per day flowed through the pipeline.
The price of gas for the European market for delivery in October was around 267 euros (6,550 CZK) per megawatt hour at the Title Transfer Facility (TTF) virtual trading hub in the Netherlands at midday today, and was about half a percent higher than on Tuesday. It peaked at the beginning of March, shortly after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. At that time, it jumped up to 345 euros per MWh in one day, but finally closed back below 200 euros/MWh. The price in TTF is decisive for gas prices in Europe.
A year ago, gas in TTF cost about 28 euros, two years ago about 15 euros/MWh. But already before Christmas last year, its price increased sharply and reached 130 euros, before returning to below 65 euros in January. According to some analysts, it was a reaction to the energy policy of the European Union, which is pushing for a rapid shift away from fossil fuels without an adequate solution.
EU Germany Russia Ukraine fights gas business Gazprom Nord Stream