Pressure on the price of natural gas – can be rationing

The price of natural gas rises sharply, up by 6.5 percent to 132 euros per megawatt hour on the Amsterdam commodity exchange. This week’s price increase – with a historic high of close to 150 euros per megawatt hour on Thursday – is thus 60 percent, the largest since Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

The upward pressure on natural gas prices – which when the energy markets in the EU are linked also affect electricity prices in Sweden – gained new momentum on Friday after the Italian energy company Eni reported that the state-controlled Russian gas monopoly Gazprom reduced gas flow by 50 percent.

According to Eni, Gazprom has thus reduced gas deliveries three days in a row.

At the same time, the French operator GRT Gaz states that it has not received any natural gas from Russia at all via a gas pipeline since 15 June.

According to Gazprom, gas flow to the EU via the Russian-German gas pipeline Nord Stream has been reduced as a result of repair work. But within the EU, most measures are seen as a Russian punishment for sanctions and EU support for Ukraine.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has accused Russian gas suppliers of lying about the need for repairs, while Germany has branded the reduced supplies as “politically motivated”.

Can be rationing

Since Russia’s attack on Ukraine, EU countries such as France have increased imports of natural gas via gas pipelines from Spain and also increased imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) via ships.

The stocks were replenished at a good pace. But this has changed abruptly this week, says Warren Patterson, chief strategist at ING Bank.

Natural gas stocks in the EU are on average 52 percent, but are now declining despite the fact that it is not the heating season. According to observers, stocks could run out completely this winter if Russia completely stops gas supplies to Europe – which could force tangible rationing measures.