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Traders Boost Their Bullish Bets on European Natural Gas Prices

Portfolio managers raised their bullish bets on Europe’s natural gas prices for a second consecutive week, lifting the number of longs close to the highest in more than two years.

The long positions in the Dutch TTF Natural Gas Futures, the benchmark for Europe’s gas trading, increased again in the past week, and are now near the level from January 2022, just before Russia invaded Ukraine, according to data from Intercontinental Exchange cited by Bloomberg on Wednesday.

Hedge funds and other money managers continue to be concerned about Europe’s gas supply in the near term, despite comfortable levels of natural gas in EU storage sites. The EU’s storage was 74% full as of June 17, according to data from Gas Infrastructure Europe. 

Planned maintenance and sudden outages in Norway and the possibility of further cuts to Russian pipeline supply continue to be of concern for traders.

In addition, stronger LNG buying in Asia has recently pulled a lot of spot cargoes away from Europe and to Asia, where prices are higher as utilities grapple to cope with power supply in heat waves.

Supply risks continue to pressure upward European gas prices, which have already jumped on two occasions this month as the market feared supply shocks.

One was the result of an outage at Norway’s Sleipner Riser offshore hub—a connection point for pipelines connecting the Nyhamna plant on the west coast of Norway with the Easington terminal in the UK. This unplanned outage sent the Dutch TTF Natural Gas Futures surging by 10% on a single day on June 3, to the highest level in six months.

In the following week, prices rose by 3%, after German energy giant Uniper terminated its Russian gas supply contracts, leaving the market concerned about the remaining flows of gas from Russia to Europe.

The announcement from Uniper and the recent warning from OMV that Gazprom could halt gas supply to Austria due to a foreign court ruling that could interrupt OMV payments to Gazprom Export rekindled concerns about whether Russian supply would be further limited by Gazprom.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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