Gas prices unchanged, but much of Europe heading into colder weather
The gas market ended last week unchanged. Gas is currently caught between a fundamentally strong supply situation, and the prospect of colder weather this week across much of Europe.
Like Scandinavia, continental Europe is heading into colder weather. The outlook is for temperatures to drop 4-5 degrees this week in Germany. We are thus moving from above normal to below normal temperatures. However, it will not be quite as cold in Germany relative to the average as in Scandinavia, and the gas market is currently in a far better state to handle a period of cold weather than it was at the beginning of winter.
The storage facility levels were much lower than in previous years at the start of the winter, and not much LNG had been delivered to Europe over the summer. But the situation changed significantly in Q4-18. Much more LNG has been received, as Asia seems to have lost its appetite for LNG, and the weather has also been milder than usual in Europe to date. This has changed the storage situation from a deficit to a surplus compared to previous years, and LNG shipments continue to arrive. We are therefore much better equipped to deal with a cold spell than we were earlier in the winter.
The big question is – how long will temperatures remain below average? Some forecasts suggest this could last up to three weeks, and while the system is in a strong position to handle this, prices have also dropped markedly over the past month.
Later in the curve, the market is often driven more by oil, coal and carbon. The oil price tested USD 62/barrel last week, but failed to break through. It has therefore dropped back below USD 60/barrel, and oil appears to be trading sideways at the current level. There is therefore no strong input to gas from the oil market.
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