Several economic and technical factors have led to a recent surge in gas prices. The entry into service of the Russian-European gas pipeline could remedy this, and the United States has let Ukraine know that it is now a reality.
Start of a crazy week for the European gas market: after a record reached on September 13 at 713.10 dollars per 1,000 cubic meters, according to the index of the Dutch gas exchange, the Title Transfer Facility (TTF), the course exceeded 800 dollars, (675 euros) the next day.
This means that the futures contracts from October already exceed 65 euros per megawatt hour (MWh) and are expected to plus 66 euros the following month. A serious problem for private and professional consumers. Thus, the price of a MWh of gas on the wholesale markets is currently close to that which was invoiced to the end user a year ago, taxes and supplier margins included.
If prices have increased, it is largely because the European market is currently under-supplied, with storage levels well below their five-year average. This is accompanied by increased demand as part of the post-pandemic recovery and a recent drop in deliveries from its major sources of supply, including Russia, in part due to lower flows through Ukraine and technical problems which have drastically reduced Russian deliveries via the Yamal-Europe land pipeline.
However, the situation could get even worse in the short term, according to analyzes by the Bloomberg agency which estimates that “at about a month from the start of the heating season, Europe does not have enough natural gas in the regions. storage sites and does not build up stocks quickly enough either. “
American LNG absent
And above all, while the American sanctions against Nord Stream 2 were also intended to make room on the European market for liquefied natural gas imported from the United States, Amos Hochstein, senior advisor to the State Department for energy security, cited by Reuters, warned the week of September 6 that US deliveries of liquefied natural gas (LNG) could not be increased.
However, the situation could change when Russia begins delivering gas to the European market via the Nord Stream 2 pipeline designed to transport some 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year from Siberian gas fields in Russia across the Baltic Sea to the ‘Europe. Its construction was indeed completed last week, but the exact timing of the start of gas deliveries still depends on the certification process in Germany. However, this process, which has already started, should still take at least four months.
See, I think we have to move from the process of talking about what we all wish had happened, that the project was not finished, to the reality that is now that it is going to be finished.
In addition, Poland and Ukraine, Washington’s main allies in Europe in its confrontation with Russia, could wage rearguard legal battles in an attempt to prevent the pipeline from entering service anyway. However, American support has been significantly reduced in this fight. Thus, during his recent visit to Ukraine, on the sidelines of the 17th summit of the European strategy of Yalta, the energy adviser of the diplomacy of the United States revealed new more modest objectives: to try to ensure that the gas transit contract in Russia and Ukraine be renewed beyond 2024, its expiration date, in order to preserve the transit revenues received by Ukraine.
“You see, I think we have to move from the process of talking about what we all wish had happened, that the project was not finished, to the reality that is now that it is going to be finished.” , said Amos Hochstein, quoted by Reuters. He added, according to the same source, that there was still a little “room for maneuver” by 2024, to ensure that Ukraine would retain its status as a transit country, but also for Kiev to “s’. directs towards alternative energy sources ”. In fact, in addition to the revenues from the transit of Russian gas on its territory (which have fallen since the beginning of the decade to one billion dollars per year after having brought in four times more), Ukraine also needs the latter for its own consumption.
When the agency asked him if he was confident in Ukraine’s chances of retaining its status as a transit country for Russian gas, the State Department’s energy advisor reportedly concluded: “I am 100% convinced that we will do all we can and that the Germans are committed to do all they can to ensure that this transit continues. ”