MOSCOW. Jan 23 (Interfax) - Europe is consuming more gas from underground storage as temperatures and wind power generation drop. Gas offtake from underground storage facilities was almost at the five-year average on Friday. All this pushed gas prices in the European market up.
The Gas Transport System Operator of Ukraine, or GTSOU, has accepted a booking from Gazprom today to transport 24.4 million cubic meters of gas through the country, as on Sunday, data from the GTSOU show.
Capacity was requested only through one of two entry points into Ukraine's Gas Transport System, the Sudzha metering station. A request was not accepted through the Sokhranovka metering station.
"Gazprom is supplying Russian gas for transit through the territory of Ukraine at the volume confirmed by the Ukraine side via the Sudzha metering station at 24.4 mcm on January 23, with booking via the Sokhranovka metering station declined," Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov told reporters.
The GTSOU has declared a force majeure with respect to acceptance of gas for transit through Sokhranovka, claiming that it cannot control the Novopskov compressor station. The route through Sokhranovka had provided transit of more than 30 mcm of gas per day.
Gazprom believes that there are no grounds for the force majeure or obstacles to continuing operations as before.
The drop in the temperature and wind generation sent gas prices up 13% in the space of just one trading day on Friday, while prices usually correct downwards ahead of the weekend. The day-ahead contract for today at the Dutch TTF gas hub in the Netherlands closed at $770 per thousand cubic meters.
The "Asian premium" or the spread between gas prices in Asia and LNG prices in Europe, is steady. In Asia, the most expensive futures contract for March on the JKM Platts index is $814 per thousand cubic meters while futures under the LNG North-West Europe Marker are $605 per thousand cubic meters.
Power generation from wind turbines in Europe averaged at 18% last week and 29% the week before that, according to data from WindEurope. This fell to a one-month low of 12.8% on January 20.
Current inventory levels in Europe's underground gas storage facilities have declined to 78.35%, which is 20 percentage points above the average for the same date over the past five years, according to Gas Infrastructure Europe.
Inventories contracted 0.52 percentage point during the gas day for January 21, a weekend day when consumption drops. Inventories fell 0.62 pp to a one-month low on January 20.
However, the relatively mild weather in October and November and thus far in January, in addition to the continent's austerity measures, have resulted in the level of reserves in UGS facilities being at an all-time high for this time of year since monitoring began, thereby underpinning the authorities' confidence in getting through the winter in good shape.
European LNG terminals have been operating at 62% capacity since the beginning of January against an average of 67% in December. January LNG imports are down 5% from December.
Germany has opened its second LNG terminal on the Baltic coast at Lubmin in addition to the terminal at Wilhelmshaven, although the recently opened Eemshaven terminal in the Netherlands has closed at least until the end of January owing to damage to the heating supply system.
The state of gas in UGS facilities in the United States is of increasing importance for the global market, and the country is actively increasing gas exports, primarily to Europe.
The latest reporting week ending January 13, 2023, again saw an unusually low a reduction of 200 million cubic meters due to mild weather.
The current level of inventories is around 59%, which is nearly in line with the average figure for the past five years, according to the U.S. Energy Department's Energy Information Administration.
The EIA currently expects UGS stocks to drop by 60 billion cubic meters this winter to the average for the last five years. Natural gas volumes in storage facilities should total 40 bcm by the end of March, which would be 8% below the average for five years.
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