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Europe’s Natural Gas Prices Steady Despite Heatwave

Europe’s benchmark natural gas prices were steady on Wednesday as above-average inventories offset higher cooling demand in the prolonged heatwave that has gripped southern and central Europe.   

The front-month futures at the TTF hub, the benchmark for Europe’s gas trading, traded at $30.64 (27.32 euros) per megawatt-hour (MWh) as of 12:43 p.m. GMT on Wednesday, slightly up by 0.9% on the day.

On Monday, prices extended last week’s losses to drop by nearly 3% after a prolonged maintenance period on a key Norwegian gas supply route ended this weekend. Last week, Europe’s gas prices posted their biggest weekly loss for this year, 22%, as Norwegian gas supply increased following the end of regular maintenance at the Nyhamna gas processing plant after work took over a month more than originally thought. 

As a result, Norway’s gas exports rose on Monday by 60 million cubic meters a day (mcm/d) at 318 mcm/d, according to Refinitiv Eikon data cited by Reuters.

Norway is now Europe’s single largest gas supplier after Russia cut off pipeline supply to most of its EU customers after the invasion of Ukraine.

On Tuesday, European gas prices shot up by nearly 8% as traders weighed the coming maintenance at other Norwegian facilities planned for August—the massive Troll gas field, the Vesterled pipeline, and the Kollsnes gas processing plant.

However, gas levels in storage across the EU are significantly higher than the five-year average and the levels from this time last year, easing concerns about Europe’s gas supply. 

The EU gas storage sites were 82.1% full as of July 17, according to data from Gas Infrastructure Europe. Industrial gas consumption in Europe is also lower, due to the slowdown in major economies.

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Despite higher demand for cooling amid a heatwave, natural gas demand in Europe continues to be subdued, also due to weaker demand for industrial activities.    

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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