Europe’s gas storage tanks are 68.8% full, a record high in the last decade, with a little more than one month left of the heating season. (chart)
After the weather turned colder in recent weeks withdrawals from the gas tanks stepped up but remained on a par with previous years. The levels of gas in storage are tracking those of 2021, the previous record year, and slightly higher than the 68.5% full tanks were on the same day in 2021.
In December, unusually mild conditions plus the ongoing arrival of record amounts of LNG imports allowed Germany to briefly reverse flows and add to its stock of gas for almost two weeks, bringing its tanks back to an unprecedented 90% full in the midst of winter.
Since then, withdrawals from German tanks have resumed, but Germany’s tanks were 75.4% full as of February 7, the highest level in over five years. All in all, tanks remain at levels not seen in the last decade.
Ukraine also looks like it will get through the heating season without mishap, where the tanks remain at 19% as of February 7. Ukraine went into the heating season with some 14bn cubic metres of gas in storage, well below the circa 19 bcm it usually starts winter with.
However, the havoc and destruction caused by the war against Russia has significantly cut demand, reducing withdrawals. As the heating season usually finishes at the end of March it appears that Ukraine will complete the season with sufficient reserves in its tanks.
Gas prices have tumbled on the back of copious supplies of gas, and were trading at $2.4 per MMBtu ($819 per thousand cubic metres) as of February 8, well below the astronomical levels of last year summer and 34% lower than the same date a year ago on the eve of the start of the war. Prices have fallen by 27% year on year in just the last month as the end of the season approaches.
Nevertheless, despite the recent fall in prices, the cost of gas remains approximately twice the level of the average price prior to the start of the coronavirus pandemic.