Gas prices fall further on record 64% full European gas tanks

Gas prices fall further on record 64% full European gas tanks
Gas prices fall further on record 64% full European gas tanks, which is 20pp higher than the five year average / bne IntelliNews
By bne IntelliNews February 23, 2023

Gas reserves in Europe's underground storage facilities (UGS) have dropped to 69bn cubic metres and are 63.7% full as of February 22, Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE) reports, with the withdrawal rate from EU storage facilities being 22% lower than the long-term average. (chart)

However, requests for Russian gas transit across Ukrainian territory have slightly increased to 42.2mn cubic metres, returning to last year's figures, up from the low 30s in recent weeks.

On February 20, gas outflow from UGS facilities in EU countries reached 314 mcm, while gas injection into storage facilities amounted to 52 mcm, according to GIE. Since the start of the heating season in Europe on November 14, EU countries have withdrawn 39.44 bcm of gas from storage facilities. However, the total gas removal from UGS facilities, 99 days since they reached their record filling volumes, is already 9.95% lower than the five-year average for that day.

UGS facilities in Europe are now 63.74% full, which is 20.97 percentage points higher than the 5-year average, holding over 69 bcm of gas. Gazprom cautioned that even with near maximum gas stocks at UGS facilities in large European countries, reliable passage through the autumn-winter period is not ensured. Due to changes in logistics and gas supply sources, the winter demand on UGS facilities in Europe will be greater than in previous years.

Although current temperatures in many EU countries are above the climatic norm, they are expected to decline gradually over the following seven days. In February, the average percentage of wind power in EU electricity generation was 17%, lower than the previous year, sinking to its lowest level since the beginning of December last week. However, by the weekend, wind generation had reached 26.5%, the highest figure since mid-January.

Due to warm weather, Europe has limited LNG deliveries from ports to the gas transportation system. The capacities for liquefied gas regasification and additional injection into European pipelines are now at 61% of their maximum. The average gas purchase price has dropped to $605 per 1,000 cubic metres since the beginning of February, dipping below $550 per 1,000 cubic metres on February 17 for the first time since the end of August 2021.

Meanwhile, Gazprom is supplying gas to Europe via Ukraine in the volume of 42.1 mcm per day through the Sudzha gas pumping station, which is 4.2% higher than the previous day, a Gazprom representative told reporters. The transit line through Ukraine remains the only route for Russian gas supplies to Western and Central Europe after the sabotage at the Nord Stream pipelines.

Earlier, Nord Stream AG reported that three threads of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 offshore gas pipelines suffered unprecedented damage on September 26. Swedish seismologists later revealed that two explosions had been recorded along the Nord Stream pipelines on September 26. Russia opened a criminal case on an act of international terrorism in connection with the explosions.