EUROPEAN natural gas prices headed for the longest stretch of weekly gains this year with traders focused on Moscow’s supplies after deep recent cuts.
The Nord Stream pipeline, the biggest link to the European Union, is due to shut on Monday for about 10 days of seasonal maintenance, and there’s growing fear that full flows won’t resume after the work.
Germany expects Canada to return a Nord Stream turbine that’s been stuck there because of sanctions on Russia, which helped ease prices yesterday. The Kremlin said the equipment would help raise shipments.
Still, it’s unclear if that piece of equipment will allow Gazprom PJSC to operate the pipeline at full capacity. For that the link needs six major turbines, but not all of the components that are still in Russia are in working condition because they need maintenance, the company has said. The supply squeeze is fuelling Europe’s worst energy crunch in decades, as bills have ballooned while once rock-solid utilities are struggling to stay afloat.
A prolonged cut in flows from Russia – historically the continent’s biggest supplier – would jeopardise plans to have storage sites sufficiently filled in time for winter, when demand typically peaks.,
Russia is triggering the “next escalation level in the European energy crisis,” Andy Sommer, head of fundamental analysis and modeling at trader Axpo Solutions AG, said in a note. “Best keep your seatbelts fastened for the summer.”
European policy makers will be keenly watching Russian President Vladimir Putin’s scheduled discussions on energy issues with government officials. The head of state-run exporter Gazprom will be among the speakers, according to the Kremlin press service, which didn’t elaborate further on the agenda.
Dutch front-month gas, the European benchmark, swung between gains and loses and was 5.3% lower at 173.50 (RM779) per megawatt-hour.
The contract has doubled its value over the past month. The UK equivalent fell 6.1%, but was also heading for a weekly gain.
The Nord Stream pipeline, also known as NS1, has been working at just 40% of its capacity after Russia slashed shipments last month. It cited technical issues with turbines that need to be serviced in Canada – with one of them stuck there following Ottawa’s sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine. — Bloomberg
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