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Gas prices in Europe again nearly reach $600/1,000 cubic meters, Gazprom requests 41.6 mcm for transit via Ukraine

KYIV. March 13 (Interfax-Ukraine) – The spot price for gas in Europe was up by over a fourth over the past week, again reaching $600/1,000 cubic meters, its highest since mid-February.

The Gas Transmission System Operator of Ukraine, or GTSOU, has accepted a booking from Gazprom today to transport 41.6 million cubic meters of gas through the country, after figures of roughly 40 mcm over the weekend, data from the GTSOU show.

Capacity was requested only through one of two entry points into Ukraine’s Gas Transmission System, the Sudzha metering station. A request was not accepted through the Sokhranivka metering station.

The day-ahead contract for today at the Dutch TTF gas hub in the Netherlands closed at $594 per 1,000 cubic meters, down from $601 during the weekend. Compared with minimal levels at close last week (the local minimum fell on Wednesday – $473), growth was 26%.

A split between LNG prices in Asia and those in Europe has noticeably returned. In Asia, the most expensive futures contract for April on the JKM Platts index is $505 per 1,000 cubic meters, and futures under the LNG North-West Europe Marker are $469 per 1,000 cubic meters.

Wind turbines provided 19% of the region’s electricity needs last week after accounting for 13% in the week of February 27-March 5, according to WindEurope.

Current inventory levels in Europe’s underground gas storage (UGS) facilities have declined to 56.61%, which is 21 percentage points above the average for the same date over the past five years, according to Gas Infrastructure Europe.

Inventories contracted 0.26 percentage point during the gas day for March 11.

The relatively mild weather in October, November and January, in addition to the continent’s austerity measures, have resulted in the level of inventories in UGS facilities being at an all-time high for this time of year since monitoring began.

European LNG terminals operated at 63% capacity in February, and the figure has been near 60% since the start of March (with statistics hit by the stoppage of French terminals due to the strike).

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.

Inventories decreased 2.4 billion cubic meters for the latest reporting week, which is markedly less than the usual offtake for this time of the year.

The current level of inventories is around 42%, which is 21 percentage points higher than the average figure for the past five years, according to the U.S. Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration. The current level of inventories is close to the highest figure for the past five years.

Freeport LNG, the United States’ largest LNG plant, has announced reopening all three liquefaction lines, thereby reducing the excess gas on the U.S. market and boosting supplies of LNG to the global market.