Natural gas prices in Europe fell this morning to their lowest level in almost two months to a low of E178. The nearly 6% drop early Monday thus affirms the decline that began last Thursday. Since that day, the value of the hydrocarbon traded in the Netherlands has fallen by 20%, taking it away from the all-time high of E346 it reached at the end of August.
The fall in prices over the last three days is a relief for the countries of the European Union, although gas futures continue to trade at almost six times the price of a year ago. Brussels already anticipated last week that "gas prices may rise further" if there are further disruptions in Russian gas supplies to the EU.
The shutdown of shipments from Russia through the Nord Stream pipeline on August 31 was the latest major decision by the Kremlin. Russian supplies to Europe have not been completely interrupted: they still remain stable, but at low levels through connections running through Ukraine.
Large German buyers of Russian natural gas found themselves in for a surprise on Monday, when they found the system by which they can send supply requests to the Nord Stream pipeline operator open. This does not mean that there are actually shipments in progress, and the company responsible has avoided giving details to Reuters news agency. Russian President Vladimir Putin stuck to his position on Friday when he said that if the EU wanted to receive more gas, it should lift sanctions preventing the opening of Nord Stream 2, the second pipeline linking his country and Germany.
As summer bids farewell and cooler temperatures approach, European countries are preparing new measures to deal with popular discontent over high energy prices. The new prime minister, Liz Truss, is developing a 46 billion euro plan to reduce the energy tariffs faced by businesses, according to Bloomberg. In France, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire on Monday put the cost of the measures his government is preparing to limit price rises at 16 billion euros.